Issues that may be encountered in Liberia’s Ebola research

Other health issues that may be encountered in Liberia’s Ebola research








Precious Teasley


Southern New Hampshire University


IHP-501-Q2461 Global Health and Diversity



Professor Carolina Baldwine


March 3, 2023

Other health issues that may be encountered in Liberia’s Ebola research

Challenge #1: Malaria

Malaria could pose a serious health issue during the humanitarian trip to Liberia. It is a serious problem in tropical areas (Ridge et al., 2021). Uncomplicated malaria can progress to severe malaria, which can occasionally be fatal if not identified and treated quickly. Some people are more susceptible to developing severe malaria. Pregnant women, children under five, and those with HIV/AIDS are at risk. Travelers to areas where malaria is prevalent are at risk. Malaria-prone individuals develop some immunity. Partial immunity makes malaria less harmful (Ridge et al., 2021). All age groups are at risk in regions with low transmission and immunity, but children make up the majority of malaria fatalities in Liberia.

Malaria symptoms start manifesting ten to fifteen days after a mosquito bite. Malaria symptoms include chills, fever, and headaches. People with partial immunity may catch the illness in regions where malaria is common without exhibiting any symptoms (asymptomatic infections) (Ridge et al., 2021). Malaria can cause multi-organ failure in adults in addition to severe anemia, respiratory distress, or cerebral malaria in children. Testing for parasites can reveal the presence of malaria. Malaria testing is helpful for the diagnosis and treatment of febrile illnesses.

In Liberia, malaria is a constant threat. Malaria infections and fatalities increase during the rainy season (May–October). Most medical facilities are shut down because of Ebola fear, and only 10% of patients attend outpatient appointments. Doctors struggle to diagnose and treat these diseases because the initial symptoms of Ebola and malaria are similar (fever, headache, weakness, and joint pains) (Ridge et al., 2021). Fever patients’ avoidance of hospitals due to Ebola fear has complicated the management of both infections. The main cause of fever in the nation is malaria, but with targeted efforts, the incidence of fever cases may decline.

Challenge #2: Acute respiratory infections (ARIs)

Acute respiratory infections (ARIs) are also obstructing research on Ebola in Liberia. The upper respiratory tract, known as the nares, includes the middle ear, paranasal sinuses, and nasal passageways (Li et al., 2018). In Liberia, acute respiratory infections can be life-threatening or have repercussions that last for a long time. Another is respiratory failure, which results from the lungs’ inability to function properly and raises blood CO2 levels.

The airway epithelium is part of the respiratory system. It controls how much air gets to the alveoli and protects the lungs from getting sick. The epithelial cells that line the airways talk to immune cells and make chemicals that help the immune system. These chemicals can change innate and adaptive immune responses (Li et al., 2018). Because of the viruses that cause severe respiratory illnesses, the immune system is not as strong as it used to be. Ebola virus replication in the respiratory tract has not been linked to lung damage. EVD, on the other hand, is marked by chest pain, shortness of breath, coughing, and nasal discharge, all of which are signs that more than one system is affected. Most viral infections of the upper respiratory tract (Li et al., 2018). Antibiotics do not kill viruses. In the vast majority of instances, the symptoms can be managed at home with the help of pain relievers, rest, and beverages.

The primary cause of illness and death for Liberian children under five is ARIs. The flu and colds are the most prevalent ARIs. Acute respiratory illness is linked to children’s age, race, parents’ income, type of housing, and how they were raised (Li et al., 2018). ARI might be less common if families had more money, kids ate better, and community members knew more about indoor and outdoor pollution. In developing nations, it is essential to treat, prevent, and detect ARIs early.

Challenge #3: Tuberculosis (TB)

Another challenge that may be encountered in Liberian Ebola research is tuberculosis. Airborne microbes can spread TB. TB can harm not only the lungs but also the spine, kidneys, and brain. The consequences of untreated TB include death (De St. Maurice et al., 2018). TB symptoms include fatigue, weight loss, a fever, and night sweats. TB lung disease is characterized by coughing, chest pain, and bloody coughing. TB symptoms vary according to the body part. A TB patient’s coughing, sneezing, speaking, or singing can spread TB germs. These viruses might stay in the air for hours (De St. Maurice et al., 2018). A latent tuberculosis infection results from breathing in TB bacteria. Not all TB carriers become ill. The result is TB infection and disease. Treatment options exist for latent and active TB. If untreated, latent tuberculosis infection can progress to TB disease that goes untreated and can be fatal.

Despite the WHO’s Stop TB Strategy’s 20-year success, TB still seriously threatens the public’s health. Liberia is one of the West African nations with a TB epidemic. People with symptoms like a cough and fever may have avoided medical facilities because of Ebola concerns or quarantine restrictions, contributing to the overall decline in presumptive TB cases (De St. Maurice et al., 2018). By increasing mortality in this patient group at the time of symptoms, Ebola may have decreased the number of TB cases. The significant decreases in smear-positive TB diagnoses could have been caused by laboratory technicians’ Ebola infection or death, their relocation to the area to handle suspected and confirmed Ebola cases, and the “no touch” policy, which made it difficult to perform laboratory procedures (De St. Maurice et al., 2018). This approach may have contributed to the decline in EPTB, which necessitates clinical examination and investigation for diagnosis.



De St. Maurice, A., Ervin, E., Orone, R., Choi, M., Dokubo, E. K., Rollin, P. E., Nichol, S. T., Williams, D., Brown, J., Sacra, R., Fankhauser, J., & Knust, B. (2018). Care of Ebola survivors and factors associated with clinical sequelae—Monrovia, Liberia.  Open Forum Infectious Diseases,  5(10).

Li, Y., Wang, H., Jin, X., Li, X., Pender, M., Song, C., Tang, S., Cao, J., Wu, H., & Wang, Y. (2018). Experiences and challenges in the health protection of medical teams in the Chinese Ebola treatment center, Liberia: A qualitative study.  Infectious Diseases of Poverty,  7(1).

Ridge, L. J., Stimpfel, A. W., Klar, R. T., Dickson, V. V., & Squires, A. P. (2021). Infection prevention and control in Liberia 5 years after Ebola: A case study.  Workplace Health & Safety,  69(6), 242-251.

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