Why do some survive Ebola? Sierra Leone study offers clues

admin   •   October 30, 2014   •   1864

Survivors of the Ebola outbreak attend a discharging ceremony at a health clinic in Freetown October 6, 2014. CREDIT: REUTERS/UMARU FOFANA

(Reuters) – An analysis of the first Ebola cases in Sierra Leone helps draw a clearer picture of why some people survive the disease, while others do not, including their age and the pace at which the virus replicates within their body.

The study published Wednesday is based on data gathered from 106 patients diagnosed with Ebola at the Kenema Government Hospital in Sierra Leone from May 25 to July 18. Some of the data on this group was incinerated because of fears that the nurses’ station where the records were kept became contaminated.

But the team managed to analyze detailed clinical records from a total of 44 Ebola patients, the biggest trove yet from the outbreak in West Africa that has killed nearly 5,000 people.

“This is the first time anybody has had this much data collected on any Ebola patients,” said Dr. John Schieffelin of Tulane University in New Orleans, an author of the study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

He said the findings help confirm some of the observations seen by doctors treating patients with Ebola.

It shows, for example, that 57 percent of people under age 21 who were treated for Ebola died from their infections, compared with 94 percent of those over the age of 45.

In the cases studied, the virus took six to 12 days to incubate before patients developed symptoms, and 74 percent of the patients in the study died, similar to what has been seen in prior outbreaks.

Fever was the most common symptom, occurring in 89 percent of patients, followed by headache (80 percent), weakness (66 percent), dizziness (60 percent) diarrhea (51 percent), abdominal pain (40 percent) and vomiting (34 percent).

However, there were some big differences in how individual patients responded to the virus, Schieffelin said.

“There were people who had very mild cases, and there are people who have very severe cases and they go downhill quickly,” he said.

One surprise was the significant difference in the amount of virus present in patients when they came in for treatment, a factor that affected whether or not they survived.

For example, 33 percent of patients with less than 100,000 copies of the virus per milliliter of blood at diagnosis ultimately died, compared with 94 percent mortality in those whose had more than 10 million copies per milliliter.

Among the various symptoms in this outbreak, Schieffelin said diarrhea is a “really big feature of it,” suggesting that doctors treating Ebola patients need to be very aggressive in administering intravenous fluids.

Bleeding, a key feature of Ebola in prior outbreaks, was rare among this population, with only 1 patient having this symptom, the study found.

Some researchers have questioned the value of spending resources on studying Ebola during the outbreak rather than using those funds to help curb the epidemic directly. Schieffelin said the analysis offers important insights for healthcare workers fighting the current outbreak, including data that can be used to determine new treatment and diagnostic approaches.

(Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Last Congo Ebola patient discharged with end of outbreak in sight

UNTV News   •   March 4, 2020

The last patient being treated for Ebola in Democratic Republic of Congo was discharged on Tuesday (March 3), the World Health Organization (WHO) said, bringing the 19-month-old outbreak closer than ever to an end.

Masika Semida’s release from hospital in the eastern city of Beni, feted by hospital staff who sang, danced and drummed, marks the first time there has been no active cases since the outbreak was declared in August 2018.

In that period, the virus has killed 2,264 people and infected nearly 1,200 more, making it the second-worst Ebola outbreak in history. Only the 2013-16 epidemic in West Africa was deadlier, killing more than 11,000.

Congo has now gone 14 days without any new confirmed cases. The outbreak can be declared over once 42 days have passed without a new case – equivalent to two cycles of 21 days, the maximum incubation period for the virus. (Reuters Connect)

(Production: Edwin Waita, Erikas Mwisi, Louisa Naks)

Trial drug for 2019 nCoV now ready to be administered to over 700 patients

Maris Federez   •   February 7, 2020

China’s health authorities have announced that registration for clinical trials on a potential antiviral drug for the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has been approved.

The antiviral drug called “Remdesivir” will be made available to the more than 700 patients that tested positive of the 2019 nCoV in Wuhan City, China for its clinical trial.

Authorities said that aside from the 2019 nCoV, the drug can also be used to fight Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), and even Ebola infection.

Remdesivir was developed by the American pharmaceutical company, Gilead Sciences.

China’s Ministry of Science and Technology, the National Health Commission, and the National Medical Products Administration support the approval of the said drug. —(details from Grace Casin) /mbmf

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Congo’s Ebola outbreak to last at least six more months, WHO says

admin   •   November 14, 2018

Health workers treating Ebola patient in treatment unit | REUTERS

The Ebola outbreak in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, which has already killed more than 200 people, is expected to last until mid-2019, a senior World Health Organization official said on Tuesday (November 13).

WHO emergency response chief Peter Salama said the WHO is “planning on at least another six months before we can declare this outbreak over.”

The outbreak in Congo’s North Kivu province has caused 333 confirmed and probable cases of the deadly virus and is now the worst in Congo’s history.

The location of the disease is perhaps the most difficult the WHO has ever encountered, due to a dense and mobile local population, insecurity caused by two armed groups, and its spread by transmission in health centers, Salama said.

One of the major drivers of the spread of the disease was due to people visiting the several hundred “tradi-modern” health centers in the town of Beni, he said. — Reuters

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