At the time of writing (September 2014) there is no known cure for Ebola, no specific drug, vaccine or alternative treatment has been proven effective at this point. Currently there are several symptomatic treatments applied to patients that may improve the chance of survival.
Early intervention is critical when treating lethal diseases and Ebola is no different. Patients receiving early medical attention are considered more likely to survive but this hypothesis lacks sufficient statistical data to confirm the assumption at this stage.
The Official treatments for Ebola are as follows;
- Replace lost fluids intravenously to prevent dehydration and provide nutrition
- Treat secondary infections with antibiotic or antiviral drugs
- Maintain normal body functions including blood pressure
Critically important is that a patient suspected of having Ebola must be isolated immediately to prevent spread of the virus.
ZMapp is making headlines as a strong candidate for the treatment of Ebola with conflicting reports about its efficacy and an increasing number of questions about the conditions under which it was used during August 2014.
There are several alternative treatments that have been suggested but at this stage remain unconfirmed.
Vitamin C is cited as having a significant role to play in viral defense. Anecdotal claims which suggest daily Vitamin C supplements may prevent infection are common. There are also claims that intravenous administration of Vitamin C upon infection may fight off the virus.
Blood transfusions from Ebola survivors are also a commonly claimed treatment for Ebola. In previous outbreaks Doctors used the method to treat patients. However, their experiments have been criticized by the medical community and remain unproven.
Several treatments have been tested and proven effective in animals but have not yet been tested in humans. Several companies have applied for or received special permission to accelerate the testing process as a result of the 2014 Outbreak.
Other treatments suggested in West Africa include consumption of onions which also has no supporting evidence.
There is no doubt that the first potential sign of Ebola infection necessitates medical attention which must be sought immediately.