Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Doctor: Ebola Fatality Rate Running At 70 Percent

Dr. Gabriel Fitzpatrick has been treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone with Doctors Without Borders. He spoke with NPR's Scott Simon about what the news of two cured Americans means for his efforts.
Two Americans were released from an Atlanta hospital this week after being declared free of the Ebola virus. They had been infected while working in Liberia. Here's Dr. Kent Brantly at a press conference after his release.
DR. KENT BRANTLY: I am forever thankful to God for sparing my life. And I'm glad for any attention my sickness has attracted to the plight of West Africa in the midst of this epidemic.
SIMON: Local and international doctors and nurses continue to risk their lives to help fight Ebola in West Africa. One of them is Gabriel Fitzpatrick, a doctor and epidemiologist for Medecins Sans Frontieres, Doctors Without Borders. We spoke with him from Sierra Leone about what the news of these two Americans means for treating Ebola internationally.
DR. GABRIEL FITZPATRICK: Well, all I can say is we too in this area are having some positive news stories from patients who have recovered from of Ebola, but this is not due to any experimental medical treatment which is available. When a patient is admitted here with Ebola, they're given various forms of supportive medical treatment such as anti-malaria treatments or spectrum antibiotics, which can treat chest infections, urinary tract infections. And they're also provided IV hydration if that's required. And these have some effects on reducing the mortality rates associated with Ebola, but there are - I have to say - not a treatment for Ebola.
SIMON: Seven out of 10 patients that you admit for treatment with Ebola die. It must be going through your mind what have they done there at Emory in Atlanta that we might be able to use here because they seemingly saved two lives there.
FITZPATRICK: In the situation I am working here at the moment, we have no experience with any experimental drugs. And I am not in a position to comment on that because we are here at the invitation of Sierra Leone. And we cannot do things that break the law, only with possibly faced expulsion. So everything we have done is in conjunction with the government of Sierra Leone. And we will continue to do that. But obviously MSF welcomes any new novel treatments. They should be made available as quickly as possible to patients if they're found to be of adequate value.

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