Ebola Treatment

Ebola Treatment

Ebola Isolation Ward in Nigeria. Photo by CDC Global.

Chapter 1. The Ebola Virus Disease

Ebola is a rare, deadly virus that causes profuse internal and external bleeding. This virus spreads through the body, damaging our immune system, organs, arteries, and mucosal surfaces. In the end, it results in decreased levels of blood-clotting cells, shock, respiratory distress, organ failure, and ultimately death. Ebola does not spread as rapidly as more common viruses like colds, influenza, or measles. It spreads through direct contact with an infected person or animal’s body fluids. Anyone who nurses an Ebola patient or comes in contact with an infected person has a high risk of contracting the deadly disease.

Chapter 2. Treatment of Ebola

Ebola is treated as the symptoms appear. Although there are no specific drugs available for the complete cure, using a certain set of medicines does improve the survival rate.

Section 1. Supportive Therapy

Intravenous therapy should be used to balance the body’s fluids and electrolytes. Maintaining oxygen levels and blood pressure is also important. Any infections should be treated as they arise.

1) Hydration

It’s extremely important for those infected to stay well hydrated. Intravenous fluids require a prescription (and knowledge of how to administer), so it’s important for those infected to seek treatment through a medical provider. If for some reason medical care is unavailable, oral rehydration therapy should be used as a treatment. Oral rehydration therapy can be administered by having the patient drink water mixed with sugar and salt. A basic solution can be made with: 30 ml sugar, 2.5 ml salt, and 1 liter of water (6 teaspoons sugar, .5 teaspoons salt, 1 quart water).

Chapter 3. Standard Care

To manage the disease several Ebola treatment centers have been set up. There have been several experimental drug tests but none have been approved yet. The best way to treat this deadly disease is to handle and treat each symptom individually. Disseminated intravascular coagulation is often seen in patients who are infected by Ebola, and in such cases, heparin is used to decrease the bleeding. A few antibiotics have been reported to help but there is no confirmation or evidence to support this find. Packed red blood cells, fresh frozen plasma or platlets are used in a few advanced cases.

Chapter 4. Intensive Care

In the more advanced states, the patient is kept under the intensive care unit and is monitored frequently for any bacterial infections. Dialysis is often used for patients with kidney problems and extracorporeal oxygenation is used for lung dysfunction.

Chapter 5. Medications

The FDA has not formally approved any drugs for the treatment of this disease but a small number have been given emergency approval by the FDA. Broad Spectrum antibiotics, antiviral drugs are all used in treatments across the globe, but nothing has been approved yet.

Section 1. Experimental Drugs

1) Brincidofovir

A broad-spectrum antiviral drug that has been shown to be effective in in vitro tests. This is the drug the Dallas patient (Thomas Duncan) received but has since died.

2) ZMapp

ZMapp has been used to treat a small number of individuals, but the outcome has not shown significant promise.

3) TKM Ebola

Currently being tested in clinical trials in humans.

4) Lamivudine

Lamivudine is used to treat HIV and has shown promise in Ebola treatment. A Liberian doctor reported administering this drug to 15 patients and was successful in saving 13 of the patients.

Chapter 6. Experimental treatments

WHO has recognized that treating patients with blood transfusions from Ebola survivors, who are now immune to the disease (antibodies), give them the highest survival potential. Though 7 out of 8 people who received this treatment survived, it still remains controversial.

Author: Ebola Preparedness

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