19-Feb-15 9:45 AM  CST

Ebola Victims Found to be Infectious even after Death

The news about Ebola doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. While the latest news about Ebola has been centered primarily on the clinical trials of forthcoming vaccines the virus never seems to let us forget it deadly strength. Studies recently conducted on macaque monkeys at Rocky Mountain Laboratories, headquartered in Hamilton, Montana, found the virus remained infectious for approximately a week after death. The monkeys, which had been used as test subjects in previous trials to study the disease, were euthanized when the virus had reached the stage where death was immanent.

What scientist found was that even after death the monkeys remained infectious for up to a week. After a monkey’s death their mouth, eyes, nose, and skin were swabbed daily. Samples were also taken from the monkey’s liver, spleen, muscles, and lungs. Scientist found that the virus remained infectious for 7 days on the samples that were taken on the monkey’s mouth, eyes, nose, and skin. However, the samples taken internally, the monkey’s liver, spleen, muscles and lungs, showed sign of the infectious virus for 3 days. Further studies showed that the RNA from decayed Ebola virus could be detected for up to 10 weeks. RNA from the virus in and of itself is not infectious, but it does prove that diagnostic testing may work much longer than first believed.

Scientists stress that these latest findings concerning the Ebola virus should be used to reinforce the use of personal protective equipment when assisting in the burial or removal of Ebola victims. Many may believe the virus is no longer dangers after death, but the studies from Rocky Mountain Laboratories prove otherwise. Many West African villages have burial rituals that involve close contact with the deceased and is one of the central reasons the virus has been so hard to contain.





McNeil, D., (2015) “Ebola Victims still infectious a week after death, scientist find”, New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/13/health/ebola-victims-still-infectious-a-week-after-death-scientists-find.html?ref=health&_r=0, retrieved 13.February, 2015

Sifferlin, A., (2015) “Ebola bodies are infectious a week after death, a study shows” Time, http://time.com/3708994/ebola-bodies-infectious/, retrieved, 13 February, 2015.


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Source: Sandy Andrews  

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