Saturday, August 30, 2014

Silver lining in Ebola gloom

IRIN: Amid the horror of Ebola in West Africa, where more than 1,400 people have died of the disease, a few have found reason to celebrate after recovering from the virulent infection which has no known cure.

Current Ebola treatment is mainly palliative: easing the headache, fever and muscle pain triggered by the virus, which also causes vomiting and diarrhoea, and in some cases internal and external haemorrhage. It killed up to 90 percent of patients in the early days of the outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“We can’t do anything else because there is no treatment for the virus. The only thing we can do is help the body fight the virus and develop immunity,” said Julie Damond, spokeswoman for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in West Africa.

If the symptomatic treatment works, the body rebuilds its defences and health is restored. In the ongoing outbreak in West Africa - the worst known so far - 47 percent of patients have been able to recover, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). MSF says it has seen recovery rates of 25-75 percent in its isolation centres in Guinea and Sierra Leone.

The medical aid group reported that since the outbreak started, 95 out of 177 patients confirmed to have been infected with Ebola in its treatment centres in Guinea recovered, and 52 out of 204 survived in Sierra Leone. Liberia is yet to report such figures as the MSF centre there opened just recently...

Ebola virus particles, Thomas W. Geisbert, Boston University School of Medicine - PLoS Pathogens, November 2008 direct link to the image description page doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1000225, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons 2.5 license

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