The Ebola detection tool, the ZOE Fluid Status Monitor, is said to be on its way to the outbreak areas of West Africa. The device has been previously approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and has had three additional approvals since it was first reviewed. The device is owned and marketed by Noninvasive Medical Technologies Inc., (NMT), of Las Vegas, Nevada.
The ZOE Fluid Status Monitor is a “non-invasive” fluid impedance monitor which has been used since its initial approval by the FDA in 2004 to aid in the detection and diagnosis of fluid retention diseases ranging from Congestive Heart Failure to Dengue Fever. Its effectiveness in distinguishing between illnesses based on the onset of otherwise undetectable shifts in fluid levels in the body has led to a paradigm shift with respect to application that has earmarked it as a possible tool in combating the spread of the Ebola virus in West Africa and other areas of the world facing the possible spread of the disease.
The ZOE monitor is able to measure drops or increases in fluid levels within the body which would not become symptomatic externally until much later. In the case of Congestive Heart Failure, the rise in fluid levels surrounding the heart which often lead to a myocardial infarction can be detected early enough to treat the rise in fluid retention before it gets to that point. That dangerous fluid buildup around the heart, or Cardiac Tamponade, can often be avoided with the earlier intervention made possible by the use of this technology. This device is available for use only when operated by a qualified Physician.
Since its initial FDA approval to treat Congestive Heart Failure, it has seen three additional approvals as other applications for the machine’s abilities have been recognized. The sensitivity of the device, owned and marketed by Noninvasive Medical Technologies Inc., of Las Vegas, Nevada, makes it ideal for the detection of condition changes in patients in treatment for heart failure, late-stage renal disease and those in recovery from a significant Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) event or from Recurrent Dehydration.
That superior sensitivity of the ZOE Fluid Status Monitor also allows it to detect and distinguish between hemorrhagic fever types, making its use as an Ebola detection device a strong possibility. For this reason, it is believed to be on its way to the outbreak areas of Western Africa as we speak. The most significant advantage of using the device is the fact that it is able to detect the drop in fluids characteristic to Ebola before it manifests as otherwise detectable physical symptoms. This means that the disease can be identified and diagnosed prior to the patient becoming contagious.
Yet another advantage to the ZOE device is the fact that it is powered by two standard AA batteries. This makes it easy to operate even in areas with no reliable power supplies such as many of the areas where the Ebola outbreak has taken hold. When this Ebola Detection Tool arrives in West Africa, it may become the central focus of a worldwide distribution in direct response to this disease. It is also currently being produced for mass distribution to all hospitals actively treating Ebola patients in the U.S.
The Fluid Status Monitor has been used previously in Western Africa to detect Dengue Fever. Dengue Fever is one of a multitude of mosquito-borne, which invade Africa and many other countries worldwide, each year. It manifests itself in four ways, with the least deadly being called Dengue Fever, and the worst being called Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever. Physicians there are familiar with the device, and how and when the ZOE monitor is able to register that particular disease.
An Ebola diagnosis is complicated. Some of the early symptoms of the virus, like diarrhea and vomiting, are present in a multitude of illnesses, some as simple as flu. Lassa fever is also taking hold in West Africa and its early symptoms mimic that of Ebola. Having the means to catalogue the progression of these different conditions in order to distinguish between them and intervene appropriately at a much earlier point than is currently possible could have a significant impact on preventing the spread of these diseases.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Lassa fever is endemic in certain areas of Western Africa – most notably Nigeria, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, where the recent outbreak of Ebola is taking root. Additionally, Lassa Fever has also been reported in Ghana, the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast),Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso and Mali.
The CDC estimates somewhere between 100,000 and 300,000 cases of Lassa Fever will occur in Western Africa each year. They also estimate that, of that number, 5000 will die from it. This is in stark contrast to Ebola, which has a 50 percent mortality rate.
The CDC estimates that there are 50 to 100 million cases of simple Dengue Fever each year worldwide, with several hundred thousand reported cases of the sometimes deadly Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever. The World Health Organization estimates that mortality rates for Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever, if treated, are between two to five percent but, if the disease is left untreated, the mortality rate skyrockets to upwards of 50 percent.
The ability to diagnose and treat these patients separately from those infected with Ebola is a significant advantage for physicians. Patients with similar symptoms would not be erroneously diagnosed and quarantined together with Ebola patients, and would not run the risk of subsequently contracting it as a result. Appropriate treatment could be administered early enough for it to be far more effective than in currently the case. In addition, the fact that Ebola can be detected prior to the point of becoming contagious means that quarantine and containment efforts could become far more effective and targeted.
The fight against the spread of Ebola is not just being fought in the research labs where the ZOE Fluid Status Monitor was created. Medical professionals are realizing that searching for more effective treatments or a possible cure and using already existing tools in new and innovative ways can also have an impact on the battle. The ZOE Fluid Status Monitor being sent to West Africa as an Ebola detection tool may well represent a significant step forward in the fight to prevent the spread of the disease. It is the latest weapon added to the arsenal of those health workers on the front lines.
Contributions By Jim Donahue, Graham Noble, and Jim Malone
Featured image courtesy of CDC Global –