It has been reported that Nancy Writebol, one of two Ebola stricken Americans, has been released from the hospital. Writebol worked for SIM, a North Carolina based group. Her husband stated just a few days ago that she was growing stronger and that they were both teary eyed as they looked at each other on opposite sides of the isolation glass.
Dr. Kent Brantley, the other American worker who contracted the deadly Ebola virus while working in Liberia, has also been released from Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. Brantley was admitted to Emory’s isolation ward almost three weeks ago. Brantley was working the charity group Samaritan’s Purse when he was stricken. The group’s president, Franklin Graham, was overjoyed at the news of Brantley’s release.
Brantley’s pending release is the result of negative blood test for Ebola over a two-day period. Once fully recovered, he will no longer be infectious. There is, however, a slight possibility that the virus will remain in his semen for three months. Both stricken Americans were treated with fluids, constant monitoring and immediate response to major medical crises. Both patients also received the experimental drug ZMapp.
While the American Ebola patients are on the brink of recovery, the virus is still spreading in West Africa. There was only a small amount of ZMapp available and current suppliers have run out of it. The only current treatment available for victims of the disease and those that have come in contact with them is isolation. While there is no cure for the virus, ZMapp was in the investigative stage when the breakout began.
A major carrier of the Ebola virus is believed to be fruit bats. These bats are considered a delicacy in some areas of West Africa. While the disease can be fatal 90 percent of the time, the current fatality rate is around 55 percent.
Symptoms of the disease include fever, bleeding, sores and damage to the central nervous system. Incubation periods of the virus can range from two to 21 days.
There is another experimental drug that has successfully halted the Marburg virus in monkeys. The Marburg virus is a relative of the Ebola virus. All of the infected monkeys who were given the drug survived. Those who were not given the drug died. This is the first time any lab animal survived the Marburg virus infection. The team is now working to make the necessary adjustments for Ebola patients. One possibility is to combine the drug with ZMapp.
The Marburg drug works by using interfering RNA (siRNA) that shut down viral protein production. This new drug is now in Phase 1 testing and will be used in human trials as quickly as possible.
To date, the Ebola crisis has killed 1,350 people. Liberia accounts for 576 of those fatalities. In all, the disease has struck 2,473 people throughout West Africa. The disease has not slowed down and is continuing to spread.
While the two American patients are recovering and one already released from the hospital, the challenge for containing the disease remains high. Ebola is spread through direct contact with infected people and isolation is the only remedy available to keep the disease from spreading.
By Hans Benes