“The medical community has appreciated that the Ebola virus can remain viable in some body fluids for an extended period of time after the initial onset of the disease,” said Russell N. Van Gelder, M.D., PhD, president of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and a uveitis specialist. “This remarkable case now demonstrates that the virus can remain viable in ocular fluids long after the patient has recovered from the systemic infection. If the Ebola epidemic continues, ophthalmologists throughout the world will be seeing patients with post-Ebola uveitis, will need to recognize and treat this condition and will need to take appropriate increased precautions in performing surgical procedures on these patients. However, I want to emphasize that as far as we know, the Ebola virus is not transmitted by casual contact. The current study does not suggest that infection can be transmitted through contact with tears or the ocular surface of patients who have recovered from their initial infection.”
As noted in guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is recommended that all health professionals take special precautions when treating patients who are or have been infected with Ebola. These measures include wearing appropriate protective garments, proper disinfection of equipment and employing appropriate waste management to minimize the spread of infection.
The newest findings that indicate uveitis may be associated with active virus within the eye highlight the vital importance of such safety measures for ophthalmic health care professionals when performing invasive procedures such as intraocular injections or surgery for cataracts or glaucoma on patients who have been infected with the Ebola virus.