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African Doctors Receiving Experimental Drug for the Ebola Virus
- Updated: August 16, 2014
Not only has the recent Ebola virus outbreak raised concern among civilians throughout the world, it has medical professionals scrambling for an effective treatment. Drugs used currently work only to ease symptoms of vomiting, fever, and hemorrhaging opposed to stopping the virus’ destruction. Although this tropical virus results in death for up to 90% of people infected, the current mortality rate is 60%.
Of all the places in the world where the Ebola virus attacks, the West African country of Liberia has the highest death toll, currently at 413. With the mortality rate so high and now dealing with a new outbreak, West African medical doctors made the decision to administer an experimental drug called ZMap to several people in Liberia whose bodies have been attacked. This includes Dr. Aroh Cosmos Izchukwu from Nigeria, Dr. Zukunnis Ireland and Dr. Abraham Borbor, both from Liberia, a Spanish priest, and two American healthcare workers. To date, these six are the only people to have ever received the rare serum.
While the Spanish priest succumbed to the virus, the two Americans are showing significant improvement. Because the three doctors just started the six-day ZMap treatment this past Thursday, their future remains a mystery although medical professionals are hoping for a full recovery. According to the United Nations Health Agency, no more than 12 doses of the serum have been made and as such, many people question whether ZMap is ethical since recipients would need to be prioritized.
The biggest problem is that at no time since the Civil War has Liberia been in such dire straits and in fact, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf recently declared a state of emergency because of the recent outbreak. Healthcare workers in that country are doing everything they can to stop the spread of the virus but working in overcrowded clinics and using inadequate equipment makes it a never-ending challenge.
Of course, every healthcare worker who treats an infected patient is put at risk for becoming a victim as well. Since the Ebola virus hit this part of the world, 81 of the 170 healthcare workers infected have died. However, with the two American healthcare workers getting better, tremendous pressure is being felt by drug manufacturers to produce ZMap, thereby making it a viable option for everyone infected with the Ebola virus living in West African countries.