Ebola Virus Disease Complications as Experienced by Survivors in Sierra Leone

Clin Infect Dis. 2016 Jun 1;62(11):1360-1366. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciw158. Epub 2016 Mar 21.


Background: Thousands of people have survived Ebola virus disease (EVD) during the ongoing outbreak. However, data about the frequency and risk factors of long-term post-EVD complications remain scarce. We describe the clinical characteristics of EVD survivors followed in a survivor clinic in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Methods: A survivor clinic opened within an Ebola treatment center compound in Freetown, Sierra Leone. At each visit, clinical and psychological assessments were conducted and free treatment was offered. Survivors were referred to a partner's hospitals if their condition could not be managed in the clinic. We used routinely collected data from the clinic to describe long-term complications of EVD and their risk factors.

Results: A total of 1001 medical consultations for 166 patients were performed between 3 February and 21 June 2015. The most frequent complaints and diagnoses were arthralgia (n = 129 [77.7%]), fatigue (n = 116 [69.8%]), abdominal pain (n = 90 [54.2%]), headache (n = 87 [52.4%]), anemia (n = 83 [50%]), skin disorders (n = 81 [48.8%]), back pain (n = 54 [32.5%]), and alopecia (n = 53 [31.9%]). Ocular complications were diagnosed in 94 survivors (56.7%); uveitis was the most common (n = 57 [34%]). Survivors were 10 times more likely to develop uveitis post-EVD if they presented with red/injected eyes during the acute phase of their illness.

Conclusions: Post-EVD complications among our patients were similar to those described previously and were detected early following the acute phase of disease. Follow-up of survivors should begin immediately after discharge to address sequelae as they arise and reduce the potential for development of long-term disabilities such as blindness.

Keywords: Ebola; complications; survivors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Pain
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arthralgia
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Disease Outbreaks / statistics & numerical data*
  • Fatigue
  • Female
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / complications*
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Sierra Leone / epidemiology
  • Survivors / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult