ZMapp, a New Drug Treatment for Ebola Virus Disease

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Ebola virus can cause severe and fatal disease in humans and nonhuman primates such as monkeys or the great apes of Africa. Early estimations suggested that the mortality rate (death rate) from this infection was about 90%, but recent findings suggest that the rate is about 60%, which is still very high. Ebola virus can replicate rapidly in humans and debilitate them quickly (causing symptoms such as fever, hemorrhage, difficulty breathing) so that they cannot effectively produce an immune response that will slow or stop Ebola-caused damage to the body; consequently, there is a race between the body's response and viral (Ebola) replication that Ebola wins in about 60% of infected patients. There has been an outbreak of Ebola infections in Africa, where over 700 people have died from Ebola. Two U.S. missionaries tending to the sick became infected; the missionary group and the infected patients volunteered to use an experimental drug, untried in any humans, in an attempt to save the missionaries, a doctor and an aid worker. The new drug given to them is uniquely designed to allow the human body to win against Ebola replication.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/5/2014