As an Ebola outbreak continues in West Africa, experts on the virus have begun to conclude that only the development of an Ebola vaccine and other drugs to treat the illness can bring the outbreak under control. Medications to fight Ebola are still experimental and in short supply, and no vaccine against the virus yet exists.
Explained Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the United States, to The Canadian Press:
“It is conceivable that this epidemic will not turn around even if we pour resources into it. It may just keep going and going and it might require a vaccine. As the epidemic gets more and more formidable and in some cases out of control it is quite conceivable, if not likely, that we may need to deploy the vaccine to the entire country to be able to shut the epidemic down. That is clearly a possibility.”
Dr. Fauci also recently announced that an early safety study of an Ebola vaccine has been in progress for more than a month. Additionally, the safety of the vaccines “looks good so far.” Human trials of the Ebola vaccine in West African patients could begin by early 2015.
In addition to protecting the general population against Ebola, an Ebola vaccine is a “critically important tool” that could be “used in the field to protect front-line health-care workers and individuals living in areas where Ebola virus exists.”
The extent of the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa reached the United States when Dr. Kent Brantly, an America medical missionary who contracted Ebola in July while working as a doctor in Liberia, returned to the United States earlier in the summer for treatment at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.
More recently, news of the first patient diagnosed with Ebola in the United States — Thomas Eric Duncan who had traveled to North Texas from Liberia — sparked increased fears of an Ebola outbreak here.
Caused by the Ebolavirus, Ebola is a severe viral illness characterized by sudden weakness, fever, muscle pain, headache, and sore throat. Transmission of the virus occurs through direct contact with bodily fluids including blood, feces, and vomit. Unlike viruses such as the flu (influenza), Ebola does not appear to spread through the air.
Experts starting to admit it may take vaccine to stop Ebola in West Africa http://www.ctvnews.ca/health/experts-starting-to-admit-it-may-take-vaccine-to-stop-ebola-in-west-africa-1.2040737
New vaccine regimens provide rapid and durable protection against Ebola virus: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/282277.php
Ebola vaccine set for human trials after inducing long-term immunity in monkeys: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/282145.php
Ebola vaccine tests may begin by early 2015: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ebola-vaccine-tests-may-begin-by-early-2015-2014-10-05
Ebola Virus Particle: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ebola_virus_em.png