Ebola was the topic of our last class not including our guest speaker and we learned the extreme fatality percentage (kills 25%-90% of all people with the virus) of everyone who contracts the virus. This disease is a killer and anyone who treats a person with Ebola or tends to them in any way often times gets the virus themselves. We saw that with Nina Pham, the nurse in Texas who contracted Ebola just by treating a patient but somehow the hospital did not follow regulations correctly. We know how deadly Ebola is but what happens when you beat the odds?
“People who survive Ebola can lead normal lives post-recovery, though occasionally they can suffer inflammatory conditions of the joints afterwards” (Mary Beth Griggs) What is going unnoticed in the news these days are the people who are immune to Ebola and those who have survived. Anyone who survives the virus then becomes immune to that strain and this seems like the key to treating others with Ebola. Once someone survives the virus, they can treat others with it without any consequences. Clearly things can go wrong with people treating patients with Ebola because mistakes are bound to happen and they have in Texas and costed the life of a young nurse.
What we don’t know is if once surviving Ebola, are you immune from multiple strains or just one and no one knows how long immunity lasts. If immunity does not last long then helping others would not be an option. Survivors are also a key in treating patients because many hospitals are using survivors blood to make a serum for a blood transfusion with the antibodies to strengthen the immune response in the body and this is a very controversial treatment at the time as well. Scientists and doctors also don’t even know if it works anyway.
Nancy Writebol is one survivor of the virus and she was asked to travel and help treat patients with the virus but after long talks with doctors at Emory, they decided without knowing how long immunity lasts and with many strains of the disease it was not the best idea for her. Survivors of the virus still are the key to beating the disease because they are the center of the research on the disease because doctors and scientists are hoping they can synthesize antibodies in order to find a cure. Hopefully soon we will find a cure and stop the outbreak that has been at the center of the news for months. For more information about the virus check the CDC website here: http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/