Silent Ebola Infections Could Be Key to Controlling Outbreak

October 16, 2014 2:54 PM

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Earlier this week, we published a new perspective on Ebola in the Lancet medical journal. As the devastating outbreak continues to spread in West Africa, it may be silently immunizing large numbers of people who never fall ill or infect others, yet become protected from future infection. If this is true, it would have significant ramifications for outbreak projections -- how many more infections and deaths will we see in the coming weeks and months -- and it would allow us to improve Ebola control strategies.

When a person is exposed to a virus, like Ebola, their immune system produces antibodies that linger in their blood long after the infection subsides. Antibody blood tests can therefore be used to deduce past infections. Following several prior Ebola outbreaks in Central Africa, such tests showed th...

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