In the past few months the Ebola virus has infected over 18,000 people, killing more than 6,800 of its victims. Doctors and scientists are working around the clock to treat and find a cure for this deadly virus. It is a very daunting task set before them to achieve but new knowledge and Ebola virus research on how to combat this disease has many in high hopes this latest epidemic can be stopped within the next six months.
Doctors have discovered that survival rates of Ebola patients greatly improve if they can keep the patients dehydrated while the virus runs its course through their bodies. Winnie Romeril, a spokeswoman from World Health Organization, reported to BBC news “The most practical thing to do for people is to give them an oral rehydration solution”. One of the main symptoms of Ebola is dehydration. Ebola victims experience severe vomiting and diarrhea. They also experience fever sweats. As a result Ebola patients lose an average of seven to eight quarts of fluids a day. To keep the body strong enough to fight the virus off, patients need to restore those fluids lost and stay hydrated.
Doctors and scientists are also realizing those that survive the Ebola virus infection seem to develop immunity against the Ebola virus afterward. Scientists have created a serum made from the blood of recovered survivors as a way to treat Ebola patients in Liberia. Scientists believe they can use the antibodies found in the survivor’s blood to effectively fight off Ebola in other patients.
The serum therapy is part of Ebola virus research and not proven to work but with no other ways to treat Ebola, this is the best choice doctors have of keeping their patients alive. The serum is already being used in the United States and United Kingdom hospitals. It is set to be used in hard hit Liberia shortly. The goal is to have 20,000 doses of serum to send to West Africa region by next year. Unfortunately, until the serum is ready to send in mass supply, the hospitals in West Africa will need to continue re-hydrating their patients and teaching the community on proper techniques for handling their deceased loved ones. This will not stop the spread of the virus, but hopefully slow the spread of the disease down until the serum is ready.
Fox, Maggie. “Horror in Sierra Leone: A Single Spark Gives Ebola New Life.” NBC News. December 13, 2014. Accessed January 5, 2015. http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/ebola-virus-outbreak/horror-sierra-leone-single-spark-gives-ebola-new-life-n267421.
“Ebola Serum Supply Reaches Liberia.” BBC News. December 15, 2014. Accessed January 5, 2015. http://www.bbc.com/news/health-30478512.