Ebola Confusion


Last week the two Americans who had contracted and become seriously ill with the Ebola virus were released from Emory University in Atlanta. Dr. Ken Brantly and Nancy Writebol were declared to be not contagious and well on the way to recovery since the virus was no longer detectable in their blood and they no longer presented its symptoms.

Their release automatically led people to question then if a “cure” for Ebola had been found?

The following news was as confusing as it was hopeful. When both Brantly and Writebol were brought to the U.S. just a few weeks ago, it was routinely reported that the fatality rate for Ebola was around 90 percent. That is what frightened so many people. Since that time much lower fatality rates have been presented by professionals. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told the New York Daily News that 50-55 percent of Ebola patients get better on their own. Saturday on National Public Radio (NPR), Dr. Gabriel Fitzpatrick, who has been treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, said the fatality rate is about 70 percent.

Not only is there a wide range of percentages about the Ebola fatality rate, but there is no suggestion that the drugs, ZMapp, administered to the two Americans at Emory had anything to do with their recovery.

Dr. Bruce Ribner, director of the Infectious Disease Unit at Emory, said, “There is no prior experience with it (ZMapp), and frankly, we do not know whether it helped them, whether it made no difference, or even, theoretically, if it delayed their recovery.”

Physicians, however, have reached a consensus that other measures can improve one’s chances of surviving Ebola. Since Ebola causes severe diarrhea, replacing essential minerals such as potassium, magnesium and sodium, help fight the disease. And those with good nutrition have a much better chance of surviving than those who are malnourished.

Ebola is still wreaking havoc in some areas of Africa. Hopefully these known strategies of early, aggressive treatment of replacing essential minerals and nutrients will become more widespread while physicians and pharmacists continue to see if we really have a “cure.”


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