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Blood taken from people who have survived Ebola infections may be the first line of specific treatment for victims of the worsening Ebola epidemic, World Health Organization officials said Friday.

All the treatments and vaccines in the works are still experimental and none has been shown to work in people yet, but transfusions of serum from people who have been infected and lived would be fairly safe and might help, the experts said after a two-day meeting on potential therapies.

“We agreed that whole blood therapy and convalescent serum may be used to treat Ebola virus disease,” WHO assistant director-general Dr. Marie Paule Kieny told a news conference. “For treatment there was good consensus on using whole blood and plasma. This can be done in Ebola-affected countries now.” And data from the first human trial of an experimental Ebola vaccine will be ready in November, Kieny said. If people get basic treatment fast, they are more likely to live. “We know that with good care you can reduce the mortality rate absolutely, significantly," Kieny said.


-- Maggie Fox