Ebola Virus Outbreak

Flicker of Hope: Early Treatment May Save Ebola Lives


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.


-Maggie Fox