W. Africa Ebola out­break tops 700 deaths

The Covington News - - THE WIRE -

FREE­TOWN, Sierra Leone (AP) — Se­cu­rity forces went houseto-house in Sierra Leone's cap­i­tal Thurs­day look­ing for Ebola pa­tients and oth­ers ex­posed to the dis­ease as the death toll from the worst recorded out­break in his­tory sur­passed 700 in West Africa.

U.S. health officials urged Amer­i­cans not to travel to the three coun­tries hit by the med­i­cal cri­sis: Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Al­most half of the 57 new deaths re­ported by the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion oc­curred in Liberia, where two Amer­i­cans, Dr. Kent Brantly of Texas and Nancy Write­bol, a North Carolina-based mis­sion­ary, are also sick with Ebola.

Write­bol is in sta­ble but se­ri­ous con­di­tion and is re­ceiv­ing an ex­per­i­men­tal treat­ment that doc­tors hope will bet­ter ad­dress her con­di­tion, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment re­leased by SIM, a Chris­tian mis­sions or­ga­ni­za­tion. Her hus­band, David, is close by but can only visit his wife through a win­dow or dressed in a haz-mat suit, the state­ment said.

"There was only enough (of the ex­per­i­men­tal serum) for one person. Dr. Brantly asked that it be given to Nancy Write­bol," said Franklin Gra­ham, pres­i­dent of Sa­mar­i­tan's Purse, another aid or­ga­ni­za­tion that has been work­ing in Liberia dur­ing the Ebola cri­sis.

Brantly, who works for the aid group, did re­ceive a unit of blood from a 14-year-old boy who had sur­vived Ebola be­cause of the doc­tor's care, Gra­ham said in a state­ment.

"The young boy and his fam­ily wanted to be able to help the doc­tor who saved his life," he said.

Giv­ing a sur­vivor's blood to a pa­tient might be aimed at see­ing whether any an­ti­bod­ies the sur­vivor made to the virus could help some­one else fight off the in­fec­tion. This ap­proach has been tried in pre­vi­ous Ebola out­breaks with mixed re­sults.

No fur­ther de­tails were pro­vided on the ex­per­i­men­tal treat­ment. There is cur­rently no li­censed drug or vac­cine for Ebola, and pa­tients can only be given sup­port­ive care to keep them hy­drated. There are a hand­ful of ex­per­i­men­tal drug and vac­cine can­di­dates for Ebola and while some have had promis­ing re­sults in an­i­mals in­clud­ing mon­keys, none has been rig­or­ously tested in hu­mans.

The dis­ease has con­tin­ued to spread through bod­ily flu­ids as sick peo­ple re­main out in the com­mu­nity and cared for by rel­a­tives with­out pro­tec­tive gear. Peo­ple have be­come ill from touch­ing sick fam­ily mem­bers and in some cases from soiled li­nens.

In Sierra Leone, which bor­ders Liberia to the north­west, au­thor­i­ties are vow­ing to quar­an­tine all those at home who have re­fused to go to iso­la­tion cen­ters. Many fam­i­lies have kept rel­a­tives at home to pray for their sur­vival in­stead of bring­ing them to clin­ics that have had a 60 per­cent fa­tal­ity rate. Those in the throngs of death can bleed from their eyes, mouth and ears.

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