The scourge that is the Ebola virus


There appears to be a depressing foreboding among the many people in the world today over the increasing victims of the Ebola virus and the seemingly uncontrolled epidemic it is causing.

All the more that one should be alarmed and apprehensive about it as people in some parts of Africa are confronted with a phantom malady that has no proven remedies, treatments or vaccines.

Over 3,000 people have been infected by the Ebola virus since the first case was documented in December 2013, the World Health Organization (WHO) said. In Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria at least 1,552 people have already died of the disease.

Thus, amid this dire scenario, WHO ethicists have approved the use of experimental drug in stricken patients.

One such experimental drug is called ZMapp, which until administered in humans suffering from the Ebola virus, was tried on 18 monkeys (rhesus macaques) that reportedly showed 100% survival, even in later stages of infection.

While it is described as the “secret serum”, it being in the experimental stages of drug development, many are hoping, however, that it could ultimately become a ‘silver bullet’ that would prevent the disease from being a universal scourge.

So far statistics of this human experiment have shown that a Liberian doctor and a Spanish priest have died from the dreaded disease despite the ZMapp treatment, but on the other hand, ZMapp has been credited for saving the lives of a British nurse and two American doctors.

But what is making a bad situation worse is that ZMapp, being an experimental drug, also means that there is not an ample supply of it.

There is therefore the urgency to produce more of this experimental drug in lieu of nothing concrete ahead. Experimental treatments are the only way doctors will ever find out if they work, like putting it to wider use.

Then again this is probably easily said than done for according to Doctors Without Borders, rolling out an untested drug during a massive outbreak would be very difficult. Experimental drugs typically are not mass-produced, and tracking the success of such a drug, if used, would require extra medical staff where resources are already scarce.

The following are some essentials of the Ebola Virus Disease:

• Symptoms include high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage
• Spread by body fluids, such as blood and saliva
• Fatality rate can reach 90% – but current outbreak has mortality rate of about 55%
• Incubation period is two to 21 days
• There is no vaccine or cure
• Supportive care such as rehydrating patients who have diarrhea and vomiting can help recovery
• Fruit bats, a delicacy for some West Africans, are considered to be virus’s natural host


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