How many people contracted Ebola?
After listening to many experts discuss Ebola, after seeing on television the devastation of men, women, and children in Africa, and after listening to a few success stories about patients who survive this terrible disease, I believe there is evidence that some simple methods may be effective in slowing and/or stopping Ebola now.
Most reports from Africa are suggesting that depending upon supportive care, the average death rate of Ebola-infected patients is about 50%. For example if there were 4,000 cases of infection attributed to Ebola, then there should be about 2,000 survivors.
What is a serum treatment for Ebola?
Dr. Kent Brantly is an American Ebola survivor who was treated in the U.S. and produces antibodies to the infection. These antibodies appear to be effective in reducing or completely blocking Ebola virus particles from reproducing by apparently blocking the virus from entering susceptible cells. Consequently, his serum, when matched with another person's blood type, has been used in at least three Ebola-infected patients, and these patients apparently are doing better. Consequently, one Ebola survivor's serum has been used to help at least three other people infected with Ebola.
If this potentially successful way to treat a few patients could be used in Africa, there is a survival pool of possibly 2,000 survivors in Africa from which serum could be harvested, blood type identified, and then survivor's serum used to treat Ebola-infected patients. If one survivor's blood donation could help three individuals, mathematically speaking, then the serum donations should be able to help about 6,000 Ebola-infected patients. The number helped thus could reach the majority of Ebola-infected individuals who have not died. Since this methodology is not difficult to complete and can be done very rapidly, perhaps it should be given a try in the African countries with the hope that the success seen in the U.S. with this methodology is made available to those suffering in Africa.
Can we stop Ebola?
In my opinion, this approach to Ebola treatment seems very possible to try; if it works, the ongoing crisis in Africa may be reduced or stopped. Its success would depend upon surviving patients willing to donate their blood, accurate blood typing, and the willingness of Ebola-infected patients to try this experimental therapy. However, if it were my family member facing a 50% chance of death, I would urge them to take this kind of therapy. I suspect that many others with an Ebola infection would be grateful for anything that may reduce their chances of dying from this disease.
Medically reviewed by Robert Cox, MD; American Board of Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Infectious Disease
Joelles, S. W.A.C. Sewell, and S.A. Misbah. "Clinical Uses of Intravenous Immunoglobulin." Clin Exp Immunol 142.1 Oct. 2005: 1-11.
Scheinfeld, Noah S. "Intravenous Immunoglobulin." Medscape.com. Feb. 5, 2014. <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/210367-overview>.