The prevalence of Post-Ebola Syndrome hearing loss, Sierra Leone.
Globally, hearing loss is the second leading cause of disability, affecting approximately 18.7% of the world's population. However, the burden of hearing loss is unequally distributed, with the majority of affected individuals located in Asia or Sub-Saharan Africa. Following the 2014 West African Ebola Outbreak, disease survivors began to describe hearing loss as part of the constellation of symptoms known as Post-Ebola Syndrome. The goal of this study was to more fully characterize hearing loss among Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) survivors.
Methodology and principal findings
EVD survivors and their household contacts were recruited (n = 1,12) from Eastern Sierra Leone. Each individual completed a symptom questionnaire, physical exam, and a two-step audiometry process measuring both air and bone conduction thresholds. In comparison to contacts, EVD survivors were more likely to have complaints or abnormal findings affecting every organ system. A significantly greater percentage of EVD survivors were found to have hearing loss in comparison to contacts (23% vs. 9%, p < 0.001). Additionally, survivors were more likely to have bilateral hearing loss of a mixed etiology. Logistic regression revealed that the presence of any symptoms of middle or inner ear (p < 0.001), eye (p = 0.005), psychiatric (p = 0.019), and nervous system (p = 0.037) increased the odds of developing hearing loss.
Conclusions and significance
This study is the first to use an objective and standardized measurement to report hearing loss among EVD survivors in a clinically meaningful manner. In this study it was found that greater than 1/5th of EVD survivors develop hearing loss. The association between hearing impairment and symptoms affecting the eye and nervous system may indicate a similar mechanism of pathogenesis, which should be investigated further. Due to the quality of life and socioeconomic detriments associated with untreated hearing loss, a greater emphasis must be placed on understanding and mitigating hearing loss following survival to aid in economic recovery following infectious disease epidemics.
Ficenec, SC; Grant, DS; Sumah, I; Alhasan, F; Yillah, MS; Brima, J; Konuwa, E; Gbakie, MA; Kamara, FK; Bond, NG; Engel, EJ; Shaffer, JG; Fischer, WA; Wohl, DA; Emmett, SD; Schieffelin, JS
Volume / Issue
Start / End Page
Pubmed Central ID
Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)
International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)