Four decades after the first Ebola outbreak, experts at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) Fielding School of Public Health have determined that original surviving victims developed a degree of immunity against potential future infection.
Traveling to villages in the in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Equateur Province to meet survivors in person, the scientists located 14 original patients from the first deadly outbreak of 1976, according to a university press release.
While there, the UCLA researchers used a temporary laboratory set up inside a mud hut in order to request blood samples and obtain health histories.
As other documentation proved scarce, the team also connected with three experts from London and the Democratic Republic of Congo who had studied the original epidemic, gaining additional information, the release said. With the assistance of dozens of co-authors, subsequent analysis led the team to conclude that results could be critical to developing future treatments.
“Unimaginable death tolls and devastation to families and communities have occurred as a result of Ebola,” lead author Anne Rimoin, associate professor of epidemiology at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health, said in the release. “With the number and frequency of Ebola outbreaks increasing over time, the need to find effective measures to combat and prevent outbreaks is critical.”
Results were published online in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.