Early treatment with something as basic as saline solution may be saving the lives of a few lucky people with Ebola virus, doctors say. Quick treatment has raised survival rates to as high as 75 percent in one small clinic in Guinea, the group Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF or Doctors Without Borders) reports.
“In Guinea, the situation has stabilized in some areas and MSF has closed its EVD (Ebola virus disease) treatment center in Telimele, in the west of the country, after no new cases were reported for 21 days,” the group says in its latest update on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. “During 7 weeks, 21 people with the disease were admitted to the center, with an astonishing 75 percent of patients making a recovery. Without medical care, as few as 10 percent of patients could be expected to survive.”
That's one thing giving hope to the families of two Americans who were infected in Liberia. In the current outbreak, the death rate’s been about 60 percent, the World Health Organization says. But it’s been hard to tell what might happen with early treatment, since most patients get treatment late, if at all. There are no specific drugs to treat Ebola but doctors say providing saline can help replace the fluids lost to vomiting and diarrhea and fever reducers can help control spiking temperatures.
First published July 30 2014, 6:37 AM
Maggie Fox is senior health writer for NBC News and TODAY, writing top news on health policy, medical treatments and disease.
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She's a former managing editor for healthcare and technology at National Journal and global health and science editor for Reuters based in Washington, D.C. and London.
She's reported for news agencies, radio, newspapers, magazines and television from across Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe covering news ranging from war to politics and, of course, health and science. Her reporting has taken Maggie to Lebanon, Syria and Libya; to China, South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines and Pakistan; to Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia and to Ireland and Northern Ireland and across the rest of Europe.
Maggie has won awards from the Society of Business Editors and Writers, the National Immunization Program, the Overseas Press Club and other organizations. She's done fellowships at Harvard Medical School, the National Institutes of Health and the University of Maryland.