The deadly Ebola virus may transmit even from dead patients, as it remains alive in the bodies of those who were dead for about 70 days, says a new study, focusing on how important it is to use safe practices for handling corpses.
The scientists from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) sampled 5 deceased Ebola-infected monkeys and discovered the virus remained viable for at least seven days and the non-infectious viral RNA for up to 70 days post-mortem.
To assess the stability of the virus after death, the scientists placed the bodies in a chamber to mimic environmental conditions in West Africa as the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have been the worst hit by the Ebola recently.
According to WHO figures, the Ebola virus has affected 22,525 people, with deaths reaching 9,004 since its outbreak last year and the clinical trials of a suitable vaccine are still underway.
After the scientists sampled 7 different body surfaces and removed tissue from four internal organs, they measured the amount of live Ebola virus and viral RNA, and compared test results at various times.
Based on the findings, the researchers have determined that live virus was detectable in surface swabs up to seven days after death and in the tissue samples up to three days. Viral RNA was detectable in several swab and tissue types for up to 10 weeks, they noted.
The study has been published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.