The recovery and discharge of the first Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) patient from the isolation centre at the Mainland Hospital in Lagos has brought hope for those infected with the virus as well as the society worried sick about their chances of survival should they contract the disease. How those who recovered managed to do so have been explained by medical experts.
According to experts who commented on the development, although 60-90 percent of people infected with the Ebola virus die, some people do recover from infection.
“Doctors don’t know for certain who will survive Ebola, and there is no specific treatment or cure for the disease. But studies suggest there are some biological markers linked with a higher chance of surviving Ebola,” Vanguard quoted medical experts as saying.
In the view of Derek Gatherer, a Bioinformatics researcher at Lancaster University in the United Kingdom, who studies viral genetics and evolution, “when a person becomes infected with Ebola, the virus depletes the body’s immune cells, which defend against infection.
“In particular, the Ebola virus depletes immune cells called CD4 and CD8 T lymphocytes, which are crucial to the function of the immune system”, Gatherer noted, arguing that “if a person’s immune system can stand up to this initial attack — meaning their immune cells are not as depleted in the first stages of infection — then they are more likely to survive the disease.
“The patients that survive it best are the ones who don’t get such a bad immune deficiency. But if the body is not able to fend off this attack, then the immune system becomes less able to regulate itself,” Gatherer said.
Another marker linked with people’s ability to survive Ebola is a gene called human leukocyte antigen-B, which makes a protein that is important in the immune system. A 2007 study found that people with certain versions of this gene, called B*07 and B*14, were more likely to survive Ebola, while people with other versions, called B*67 and B*15, were more likely to die.
Also giving an insight, Lagos state Governor Babatunde Fashola remarked: “This is a virus that will run a maximum of 21 days. What we must do is people who show some signs of illness should come in very early so that we can continue to hydrate them, give electrolyte balance so that their nervous system do not go into shock and wherever it is necessary to provide antibiotics for patients; and their body can fight the virus which in the event last no longer than 21 days.”
Fashola, who spoke at a media briefing where he indicated that more patients were likely to be discharged this week, noted: “There is silver lining in all of this, as report reaching me shows that many of the critical patients are responding positively to treatment and are likely to be discharged next week, (this week).
“At the moment, 61 people have been certified negative and they have been freed.
“Aside the treatment for those who have full grown cases, the more important work is tracking all those who have had contact with them in order to know how far the virus has spread. It is when we have finally reach everyone that we can say that we have control over the virus. From that place we can go back to sleep,” the governor said.
Also speaking at a different forum, Director, Nigeria Centre for Diseases Control, NCDC, Prof. Abdulsalim Nasidi said the likelihood of more patients being discharged arose from medical reports indicating that they are showing signs of full recovery from the disease.
Nasidi, who spoke on the probability of more patients being discharged, had earlier affirmed that there were chances of surviving the deadly disease if treated early.
“Yes, we have some of the patients who have fully recovered from the disease after intensive medical treatment and they are likely to go home and reunite with their family members soon,” he affirmed. [Vanguard]