The scientists in US seem to be working on a tough task, to find out the life span of Ebola virus.
The Ebola virus travels from person to person through direct contact with infected body fluids, but how long can it live in waste water when liquid wastes from a patient end up in the sewage system?
Reviewing the latest research, Kyle Bibby at the University of Pittsburgh said that the World Health Organization has been saying you can put (human waste) in pit latrines or ordinary sanitary sewers and that the virus then dies. But the literature lacks evidence that it does. They may be right, but the evidence isn't there.
The researchers explain that knowing how long the deadly pathogen survives on surfaces, in water, or in liquid droplets is critical to developing effective disinfection practices to prevent the spread of the disease. Currently, the WHO guidelines recommend to hospitals and health clinics that liquid wastes from patients be flushed down the toilet or disposed of in a latrine. However, Ebola research labs that use patients' liquid waste are supposed to disinfect the waste before it enters the sewage system. Bibby's team set out to determine what research can and can't tell us about these practices.
The researchers scoured scientific papers for data on how long the virus can live in the environment. They found a dearth of published studies on the matter. That means no one knows for sure whether the virus can survive on a surface and cause infection or how long it remains active in water, wastewater, or sludge. The team concluded that Ebola's persistence outside the body needs more careful investigation.
To that end, Bibby recently won a 110,000 dollars National Science Foundation grant to explore the issue. His team will identify surrogate viruses that are physiologically similar to Ebola and study their survival rates in water and wastewater. The findings of this study will inform water treatment and waste-handling procedures in a timely manner while research on the Ebola virus is still being conducted.
The article was published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology Letters.