How to Treat Ebola

Ebola Treatment
Ebola Treatment

To date, there is no known cure for Ebola virus disease (EVD). However, the fact that some have died from it while others have survived gives one optimism about its containment and eventual eradication. Ebola’s survivors are living proof that the effects of this deadly disease are not like that of a tornado, wherein one survives and another dies, with no rhyme or reason able to be attributed. Outbreaks have been contained in the past, and the fact that infected patients are surviving and walking away from the disease is testament to new treatments being devised that may be working. What are the treatments that seem to be making a significant difference?

Ebola History

The first outbreak of Ebola occurred in 1976 in two simultaneous occurrences, one in the Democratic Republic of Congo (then Zaire) near the EbolaRiver, and the other in the Sudan. During these outbreaks, 318 people reportedly were affected, and 280 of those died from the disease. Ebola was contained, due in part to changes in the way patients who died from the disease were buried, as contact with their bodies was limited. This latest outbreak saw its beginnings in West Africa in March of 2014. Since that time, more than 4,900 patients have died from Ebola’s effects. Many of these fatalities have occurred in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone. However, most patients who have been treated in the United States have survived. As of October 28, nine people have been treated in the United States for Ebola, with one of those cases resulting in a fatality and others surviving or reported in serious-but-stable condition. The difference in survival rates is being attributed to the differences in care. In the U.S., a forceful offensive is being waged by the medical community against Ebola.

Speedy treatment in a high-quality hospital

All those patients infected with Ebola who were treated in the United States were rushed to high-quality, qualified U.S. hospitals to be treated. Four hospitals in the U.S. reportedly have been preparing for a number of years to treat cases of Ebola, and these are the hospitals where Ebola survivors in this country were treated. Among these hospitals is EmoryUniversityHospital in Atlanta, where two of the country’s Ebola survivors were treated. Another is Omaha’s NebraskaMedicalCenter, where another survivor was recently released.

Swift rehydration

Another vital factor that has been involved in treating all survivors of Ebola is quick and thorough rehydration. Ebola is a systemic viral infection. This means that it attacks every human organ including tissue except skeletal muscles and bones. Once referred to as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, Ebola virus disease is noted for causing hemorrhaging and blood clotting, which can cut off blood supply to vital organs. Ebola is suspected of reducing a patient’s immune system response. The symptoms of Ebola include spontaneous bleeding from bodily orifices and skin tears, with early symptoms including fever, severe headache, joint pain, muscle pain, followed by severe stomach pain, diarrhea, and vomiting. Bleeding can also occur in the eyes, tongue, and nose. Because of the severe diarrhea and vomiting that occur in patients infected with Ebola, quick and significant rehydration is vital for survival. According to some of the doctors who are caring for Ebola patients, the most important factor in treatment is managing fluids and electrolytes. Dehydration can be fatal, and this means that aggressive rehydration and thorough attention to a patient’s lab values can be the difference between life and death.

Plasma transfusions

Three of the surviving patients who were treated in the United States received plasma donations from another of the survivors. Many in the medical community are theorizing that the blood plasma of the contributing survivors contained the antibodies needed to fight Ebola virus disease. The surviving contributor, Dr. Kent Brantly, and the three who received his plasma donation, luckily, are all of the same blood type. Dr. Brantly remarked that he will continue to contribute plasma donations to Ebola patients as much as needed.

Experimental drugs

The World Health Organization reports that immunological and drug therapies are currently under development. Additionally, potential vaccines are undergoing evaluation to prevent further Ebola outbreaks. Though drugs typically must run through clinical trials in order to be available for use, a panel from the WHO opines that it is more ethical to offer experimental drugs to fight Ebola, even if their effectiveness and side effects are not yet known, as opposed to continuing to risk Ebola’s current 50-percent mortality rate. The experimental drugs that are currently being developed and tested are ZMapp, a biopharmaceutical comprising three monoclonal antibodies; favipiravir, an antiviral also known as T-705 being developed in Japan; brincidofovir, an antiviral being developed in North Carolina for Ebola and small pox; and TKM-Ebola, a drug under development in Canada. The WHO has approved and authorized the use of some of the experimental drugs for what it terms ‘compassionate use’ in West Africa and other areas where containment is proving to be profoundly difficult.

What is The History of Ebola?

History of Ebola
History of Ebola

It has been compared to Bubonic plague and AIDS. Formerly referred to as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a severe human illness that is often fatal. There has been quite a stir in recent news reports, and some might even say hysteria. With outbreaks in West Africa, and now cases reported in the United States, Ebola is one of the major topics on many evening news and talk shows. How much is known about this deadly disease varies from one country to the next, but the fact remains that millions in the U.S. know very little about it. Oftentimes, however, it is important to learn as much as possible about a thing in order to overcome our fears of it. Following is information about the history of Ebola, as well as what is being done around the world at present to control and potentially eradicate it.

According to the website of the World Health Organization (WHO), here are some of the key facts regarding Ebola:

  • Ebola is transmitted to people from wild animals.
  • Ebola spreads in humans through human-to-human transmission.
  • The first Ebola, or EVD, outbreaks occurred in Central Africa’s tropical rainforests.
  • The most recent outbreak of Ebola occurred in West Africa, both in rural and urban dwellings.
  • The average fatality rate of the disease is approximately 50 percent; however, rates have varied from 25 percent to as high as 90 percent in past outbreaks.
  • Early care that includes rehydration and symptomatic treatment improves a patient’s survival rate.

EVD first appeared in 1976 during two outbreaks that occurred simultaneously. One of these was in the Sudan. The other occurred in a village in the Democratic Republic of Congo (then Zaire) that lies near the EbolaRiver, from which the disease’s name was derived. These outbreaks reportedly were quickly contained. They affected 318 people and resulted in the deaths of 280 of these patients. The 1976 surge of the disease was traced to contaminated hospital needles. Reports state that only five syringes were used daily to treat all patients. The hospital was closed, and the outbreak was contained quickly thereafter. However, reports also include the fact that community behaviors changed during this outbreak, to which scientists greatly attribute the relatively swift containment of the disease. For instance, traditional burial practices were changed, and this often stopped uncontaminated people from contracting Ebola from those who had already died from it. Today, some of the same scientists who worked to contain the first outbreaks are weighing in again in order to contain its spread.

Since September 2014, the latest outbreak of Ebola has infected more than 7,400 people, and it has claimed the lives of more than 4,900, the WHO reports. The current outbreak that began in West Africa saw its first cases in March of 2014. This is reported as the largest and most complex outbreak of the disease since its discovery in 1976. In fact, the statistics of the WHO are that there have been more deaths involved in the current Ebola outbreak than all other occurrences combined. Additionally, the disease has spread across land borders to Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Senegal, and now to the United States. It is important for all Americans to note that the areas that are the most severely affected are those countries that contain the weakest health systems and infrastructural resources. On August 8, the director-general of the WHO declared the latest Ebola outbreak a ‘Public Health Emergency of International Concern.’

As the medical and scientific communities work tirelessly to learn as much as possible about this deadly disease, including the best and most effective methods of controlling, preventing, and erasing its existence, there are things people can do to aid in its containment. The first step is raising awareness of the risk factors for Ebola infection. Individuals can take preventive measures in order to reduce human-to-human transmission. Some of these factors, according to the WHO, include:

  • Wildlife-to-human transmission from contact with infected monkeys/apes or fruit bats and their consumption of raw meat should be reduced.
  • Animals should always be handled with protective clothing, including gloves.
  • All animal products should be thoroughly cooked before consumed.
  • Protective clothing should be worn when caring for ill patients.
  • Anyone who may have been in contact with someone infected by Ebola should identify him/herself or be identified.

If the only thing we have to fear is fear itself, it would stand to reason that fearing Ebola is not as effective a tool in fighting it as learning as much as possible about its history and prevention. Though an often fatal disease, like other diseases, Ebola can be controlled and erased. In fact, immunological and drug therapies are now under development, according to the WHO. Additionally, potential vaccines are undergoing evaluation. It is important for people to remember that there was a time when humans believed the Black Death would never cease. Today, the plague is a tragic note in history. Through the rigorous medical research currently being conducted, Ebola can prove to be the same.