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Effective Treatments Found to Stem Deadly Ebola Epidemic

Effective Treatments Found to Stem Deadly Ebola Epidemic


By David E. Hubler
Contributor, EDM Digest

Researchers in the Democratic Republic of Congo “have identified the first clearly effective treatments for Ebola,” National Public Radio’s Richard Harris announced Tuesday.

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As a result of the new treatments, “two people cured of Ebola using the experimental drugs were released from a treatment centre in Goma, eastern DR Congo, and reunited with their families,” the BBC reported.

Ebola May Soon Be Preventable and Treatable

Ebola may soon be “preventable and treatable,” the BBC added. “More than 90% of infected people can survive if treated early with the most effective drugs.”

The experimental drugs will now be made widely available at the health centers in the DRC that “have already treated thousands of patients,” Harris said.

The latest outbreak of the deadly disease – the second deadliest in history – has killed more than 1,800 people, nearly one-third of them children, in the past year. In July, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the epidemic a global emergency.

During the study, scientists in Congo compared four potential treatments to test whether any of them could hold the virus in check, Harris explained. “When scientists took a peek at the data last Friday, as a standard part of the testing protocol, they discovered that two of the experimental drugs were performing notably better than the other two,” he said.

The two drugs that showed more benefit are monoclonal antibodies that help the immune system fight off infection. One is made by Regeneron; the other is called "monoclonal antibody 114," or mAb114, and was developed jointly by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and scientists in Africa.

They are the "first drugs that, in a scientifically sound study, have clearly shown a significant diminution in mortality" for Ebola patients, NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci told NPR.

"We now have seen that there are at least two therapies that are showing a beneficial effect in prolonging the life or decreasing the mortality of Ebola virus disease,” Dr. Fauci said. However, he cautioned that “it is certainly not a total cure at all, but it clearly has shown a beneficial effect.”

Notable Breakthrough in the Midst of Epidemic and Armed Assaults on Doctors

As NPR’s Harris noted, “The achievement is particularly notable given the extraordinary circumstances: Scientists in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been running a study in the midst of a deadly epidemic and in the face of armed assaults on doctors.”

A Cameroonian doctor, Richard Mouzoko, was shot dead in April at a hospital in Butembo, where he was treating Ebola patients.

Efforts to contain the spread have also been hindered by suspicion towards foreign medical assistance.

The Ebola virus, a serious and often fatal illness in humans and nonhuman primates, was first recognized in 1976 in the DRC. It is caused by infection from one of five Ebola virus species, four of which can infect humans. The virus is spread through direct contact with the bodily fluids of a sick person and can cause fever, headache, muscle pain, weakness, fatigue, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain and hemorrhage (severe bleeding).

Victims often prefer to be treated at home. But that spreads the virus to the family members who are caring for their ill relative.

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David Hubler David E. Hubler brings a variety of government, journalism and teaching experience to his position as a Quality Assurance Editor at APUS. David’s professional background includes serving as a senior editor at CIA and the Voice of America. He has also been a managing editor for several business-to-business and business-to-government publishing companies. David has taught high school English in Connecticut and at Northern Virginia Community College. He has a master’s degree for Teachers of English from the University of New Hampshire and a B.A. in English from New York University. In March 2017, Rowman & Littlefield published the paperback edition of David’s latest book, "The Nats and the Grays, How Baseball in the Nation's Capital Survived WWII and Changed the Game Forever."