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article imageCan Ebola be treated with the blood of survivors?

By Tim Sandle     Aug 17, 2014 in Science
As part of its bid to tackle Ebola, the World Health Organization (WHO) is considering a potential Ebola treatment that involves using the blood of people who have recovered from an infection to treat those still fighting the virus.
As a strong signal that the 'blood transfusion' approach is being seriously considered, a statement from WHO sent to the magazine Science stated: "Convalescent serum is high on our list of potential therapies and has been used in other outbreaks (eg in China during SARS). here is a long history of its use, so lots of experience of what needs to be done, what norms and standards need to be met."
Apparently the use of the blood of survivors has been tried before in 1976, when the first outbreaks of Ebola virus were recorded. The results of serum injections are not clear-cut and there is no certainty that these forms of blood transfusions would work.
Convalescent serum (serum obtained from one who has recovered from an infectious disease and considered to be especially rich in antibodies against the infectious agent of the disease) was last tried in 1995 in an Ebola outbreak in Kikwit in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
WHO are considering various methods to tackle Ebola. in August an ethics committee at WHO declared it was ethical under the special circumstance to use unapproved Ebola treatments such as ZMapp. However, while some experimental drugs show promise, pharmaceutical companies cannot, at present, readily produce the medications in large supplies.
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