An Ebola survivor has fallen ill with the disease for a second time in eastern Congo, the Congolese health authorities said on Sunday, saying it was not yet clear if it was a case of relapse or reinfection. Experts say there has been a working assumption that Ebola survivors generally have immunity from the disease. There have been no documented cases of reinfection but some researchers consider it to be at least a theoretical possibility, while the recurrence of a previous infection is considered extremely rare.
“We have had cases where the virus persists in immune reservoirs,” said Margaret Harris, a spokeswoman for the World Health Organization (WHO). “In rare cases the virus can cause symptoms again. We are investigating now to see whether this was what happened.”
A survivor working in an Ebola treatment center fell sick again with the virus and died in July, but it has not been determined if she relapsed, was reinfected or had a false positive the first time she was ill.
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