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Ebola Detected in Eye of Doctor Declared Free of Disease

This undated colorized transmission electron micrograph image made available by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows an Ebola virus virion, or infectious agent.

A medical journal is reporting that the Ebola virus was detected in the eye of a U.S. doctor who had already recovered from the illness, a rare finding in the study of Ebola.

In the New England Journal of Medicine, scientists write that the doctor caught Ebola last year while working in Sierra Leone and had blurry vision and pain two months after being declared Ebola-free.

Tests showed that fluid in his left eye contained the live Ebola virus or uveitis, a dangerous inflammation inside the eye. Uveitis has also been diagnosed in West Africans who survived Ebola.

The doctor's vision began to improve after three months of treatment with steroids and antiviral drugs.

Prior to this case, almost nothing was known about the ability of Ebola to exist inside the eye. The virus may persist in semen for months, but other body fluids were thought to be clear of it once a patient recovered from the disease.

In the journal article, the scientists suggest that more studies are needed to check for the virus in other "immune privileged" parts of the body, such as the central nervous system, testicles and cartilage.

The World Health Organization says Ebola has killed more than 10,000 people, mostly in the West African nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. More than 24,000 people have been infected with Ebola since the West African outbreak began in December 2013.

Liberia has seen the most deaths in the Ebola outbreak, with more than 4,600 reported.