Months after doctor was Ebola-free, virus found in eye

Testing suggests delayed symptoms, like Dr. Ian Crozier's infected eye, don't mean patients remain contagious.

By Brooks Hays

ATLANTA, May 8 (UPI) -- Dr. Ian Crozier almost lost his life to Ebola. But in October, after a monthlong battle with the deadly disease, Crozier left Emory University Hospital seemingly virus-free.

But weeks later, Crozier returned, complaining of an intense pain and pressure in his left eye. As the pressure intensified, his eyesight diminished. His physicians were befuddled. But a series of tests finally located the problem. The results startled physicians -- Crozier's eye was overrun by the Ebola virus.


Research had previously shown that the virus can subsist in a patient's semen long after he is cured, but this is the first time the virus has been documented in corneal fluid.

"It felt almost personal that the virus could be in my eye without me knowing it," Crozier told the New York Times.

Crozier's eye, which had also slowly lost its blue hue, eventually returned to health. But doctor's aren't sure whether it was an experimental antiviral drug, a steroid shot or simply Crozier's own immune system that did the trick.

Researchers, who detailed Crozier's case in a recent paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine, say Ebola survivors require long-term monitoring.


That advice is consistent with the firsthand experiences of Dr. John Fankhauser, who has been providing care to Ebola survivors in Liberia. He says his patients complain of chronic pain, headaches and eye trouble several months after their blood is found to be free of the virus.

"We're seeing symptoms in patients who've been out of the treatment unit for up to nine months," Fankhauser told the Times. "They're still very severe and impacting their life every day."

But testing suggests such delayed symptoms don't mean patients remain contagious. Testing showed tears and the other surfaces of Crozier's eye were Ebola-free.

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