The Ebola virus is a rare and deadly disease caused by one of the Ebola virus strains. This virus has made way into the United States of America from West Africa through human carriers. This virus has proven to be fatal and easily transmitted throughout the human population. It is mind boggling as the Ebola virus is an animal borne virus that seeks its reservoir in mainly bats. It is believed that transmission of this virus into the human population is through direct contact with blood or bodily fluids of an infected animal. Once this virus entered into the human population, transmission of Ebola virus from one human to another human became widespread. Transmission among humans is also via direct contact with infected blood or bodily fluids. The Ebola virus does not spread through air or water.
Many patients who have contracted this Ebola virus have experienced an abrupt onset of fever. Other signs and symptoms of this virus include malaise and chills. The non-specific nature of these symptoms may lead to a misdiagnosis of disease as other conditions may manifest with similar signs and symptoms. Also 18% of these infected patients have experienced unexplained bleeding.
The standard of care in the treatment of the Ebola virus is still supportive treatment which consists of fluid and electrolyte replacement, oxygen and blood pressure stabilization, and treatment of any complicating infections associated. Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc. is in the process of developing a drug called ZMapp© which is comprised of three different monoclonal antibodies that is intended to bind the protein on the Ebola virus which will render the Ebola virus inactive. ZMapp© has been proven safe and effective in animals but have not been clinically tested on humans. Despite lack of concrete clinical trials and safety data, ZMapp© has been initiated on some Ebola patients (two of which were bedded at Emory in Atlanta, GA), and have shown to be effective with an outcome of spontaneous recovery. According to the CDC, there are no available vaccines for the Ebola virus yet but is in the development stages now.
HCA hospitals nationwide have been proactive in this Ebola outbreak by implementing stringent protocols in its hospitals in order to prevent the progression and spread of this deadly disease. Specific screening procedures in the initial entry into the hospitals have been put to use. Hopefully with everyone’s compliance with these procedures, we will not have to endure the complications of the Ebola virus, but knowledge of potential treatment options can come in handy if we are ever faced with this situation.
Clara Vinh, Pharm. D.