47% of Ebola Patients Survive


The current Ebola epidemic which has killed nearly 1,500 people out of over 2,600 known cases was called “the worst in history” and declared an international public health emergency by the World Health Organization. But now WHO says that 47% of the Ebola patients survive, more than in previous outbreaks.

Ebola first appeared in 1976, when two outbreaks were identified in regions of Sudan and Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo). Most of the epidemics over the years have mainly occurred in remote villages in Central and West Africa, basically, where the current outbreak is killing people right now. The death rate of the disease depends on the type of the virus (there are 5 different species) it is caused by and ranges between 25 and 90%. In the latest epidemic, which began in March 2014, more than 2,600 people have been infected and 1,427 of them have died, mainly in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone. Cases also have been reported in Nigeria, and recently, in Congo.

On Monday, WHO announced that more than 240 health care workers have been infected with Ebola and over 120 of them have died, which is an “unprecedented number of medical staff”. This makes the fight against the outbreak even harder, with medical staff needed to be imported and educated as soon as possible. Several weeks ago, the UN health agency published a plan for action which included an investment of $71 million to handle the situation. Now, it estimates the sum should be increased to at least $430 million, in order to bring Ebola under control. Experts believe that the outbreak may soon exceed all previous Ebola epidemics combined.

Yet, on its official website, WHO claims that the survival rate has been higher than in previous outbreaks, with 47% of the patients surviving the dangerous disease. And while it sounds like good news, but the same international scientists and medics also said that the epidemic “continues to evolve in alarming ways”. The death toll is expected to jump as new cases are identified every day in the affected countries.

While there is still no approved treatment for Ebola, various medications are in use to improve patients’ symptoms and condition in the worst phases of the disease. An experimental drug, which was administered to two Americans, was recently received by several African doctors, as well. The two Americans, who were transferred back to the U.S. for treatment survived, but the medicine seem to be ineffective in helping the infected medical staff in West Africa. Several countries, including Canada and most recently, Japan, said they are ready to aid affected communities by providing vaccines and treatments, which, just like ZMapp, are still untested and in experimental phase.

Doctors Without Borders, as well as experts from the European Commission are now openly criticizing WHO for its untimely actions and lack of leadership in coordinating the efforts in bringing the epidemic under control.


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