Researchers Find Ebola Virus in Patient's Eye Fluid Weeks After It Was Undetectable in Blood

Researchers are reporting a case study in which viable Ebola virus was present in the eye’s aqueous humor - the clear fluid in the front of the eye, between the lens and the cornea - 10 weeks after the virus was no longer detectable in the patient’s blood.

The case study is based on Ebola survivor Ian Crozier, MD. Crozier and four of the physicians who treated him at Emory University Eye Hospital will present the findings on Thursday, May 7, in Denver, Colo., at the annual meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.

The case study is being published simultaneously in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Ian Crozier, an infectious disease specialist, helped in the fight against the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone in August 2014. Within a few weeks, he himself contracted the disease and was evacuated to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta in critical condition.

In a session titled "Ebola and the Eye: A Journey of Discovery and Uncertainty," Crozier and a team of ophthalmology and infectious disease physicians from Emory University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shared their perspectives into Crozier’s evacuation, treatment, recovery and subsequent vision-threatening condition, as each of them dealt with the uncertainty and long-term implications of this virus.

After he recovered from Ebola virus disease, Crozier was found to have severe uveitis during his convalescence. Uveitis is an inflammation of the uvea, the middle layer of the eye, which contains many of the eye’s blood vessels. The resulting swelling can destroy eye tissues, leading to reduced vision and even severe vision loss.

According to Steven Yeh, MD of the Emory Eye Center, “The presence of viable Ebola virus in the eye could mean that other Ebola survivors may also be at risk for the development of uveitis. The thousands of Ebola survivors in West Africa and healthcare workers in their home countries will need to be monitored for eye disease in the post-Ebola period.”

Source Newsroom: Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO)