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To determine how long Ebola virus could remain infectious in a body after death, National Institutes of Health (NIH) scientists sampled deceased Ebola-infected monkeys and discovered the virus remained viable for at least seven days. They also detected non-infectious viral RNA for up to 70 days post-mortem. The study, published in Emerging Infectious Diseases, suggests that Ebola transmission from deceased individuals may be possible for an extended period of time following death, underscoring the importance of using safe practices for handling corpses. The research also highlights oral swabbing of bodies as a reliable and safer alternative to riskier procedures for obtaining diagnostic samples.
J Prescott et al. Post-mortem stability of Ebola virus. Emerging Infectious Diseases DOI: 10.3201/eid2105.150041 (2015).
NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., and Vincent Munster, Ph.D., chief of the virus ecology unit in NIAID’s Laboratory of Virology, are available to comment about this study.
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