Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Beating Ebola

The story of the missionary doctor who contracted Ebola, was administered a new drug that hadn't yet been approved by the FDA, and has made an amazing recovery is rapidly getting to be old news but it's fascinating nonetheless. CNN has a report on it:

This is the lede from the CNN story (linked to above) which should be read in its entirety since it has a lot of interesting details about the serum and the sequence of events that led to its being administered to the two Americans.
It's a story that could have come from a cinematic medical thriller: Two American missionary workers contract Ebola. Their situation is dire. Three vials containing a highly experimental drug are flown into Liberia in a last-ditch effort to save them. And the drug flown in last week appears to have worked, according to a source familiar with details of the treatment.

Dr. Kent Brantly's and Nancy Writebol's conditions significantly improved after receiving the medication, sources say. Brantly was able to walk into Emory University Hospital in Atlanta after being evacuated to the United States last week, and Writebol is expected to arrive in Atlanta on Tuesday.

On July 22, Brantly woke up feeling feverish. Fearing the worst, Brantly immediately isolated himself. Writebol's symptoms started three days later. A rapid field blood test confirmed the infection in both of them after they had become ill with fever, vomiting and diarrhea.

It's believed Brantly and Writebol, who worked with the aid organization Samaritan's Purse, contracted Ebola from another health care worker at their hospital in Liberia, although the official Centers for Disease Control and Prevention case investigation has yet to be released.

As the Americans' conditions worsened, Samaritan's Purse reached out to a National Institutes of Health scientist who was on the ground in West Africa, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

"The scientist was able to informally answer some questions and referred them to appropriate company contacts to pursue their interest in obtaining the experimental product," NIAID said.

The experimental drug, known as ZMapp, was developed by the biotech firm Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc., which is based in San Diego. The patients were told that the treatment had never been tried before in a human being but had shown promise in small experiments with monkeys.
Here's a question for liberals to ponder: Why is it that drugs like this always seem to be created and produced in free market countries and never, to my knowledge, in socialist countries? It's something for fans of government-controlled health care to contemplate.

Here's another question related to plague-like diseases: How long will it be before the President's lassitude concerning our southern border results in something like Ebola making its way across said border and into our major cities undetected? Maybe it won't happen, but why is Mr. Obama making it easier for it to happen?

I also heard today that the active ingredient in the drug is nicotine. I don't know if that's true, but if it is tobacco farmers will be dancing a jig.