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Blood transfusion hope for Ebola care

Monday September 29th, 2014

Blood plasma treatments may have a key role in helping to tackle the Ebola virus epidemic in Africa, the World Health Organisation has said.

WHO is looking at ways of stepping up use of these treatments as the death toll climbs from the epidemic, which is thought to have killed at least 3,000 people.

The treatment is known as convalescent therapy and involves recycling plasma or whole blood from patients recovering from viral infection - in the hope that this can provide a transfusion of anti-virus antibodies.

A US doctor Kent Brantly received the treatment in Liberia when he was first infected with the virus.

He recovered from the disease in the USA but only after also having the experimental drug ZMapp.

WHO said another overseas doctor, infected in Sierra Leone, is also recovering after undergoing the treatment - and a second US doctor has recovered in the USA after receiving a plasma transfusion.

A WHO analysis refers to a trial of the treatment in 1995 in the Congo when seven out of eight patients recovered.

WHO said it would be issuing guidance on the use of the therapies this week.

A statement said: "Some partners and donors are asking for rough estimates of what needs to be in place to support rapid implementation on the largest possible scale.

"They have questions about the number of staff needed and their training requirements, safety risks and how to manage them, laboratory capacities and how to enhance them, specific needs for equipment and supplies, and what all of this might cost.

"As initial supplies of these therapies will inevitably be limited, questions about which groups should have priority access also need to be addressed."

Tags: Africa | Flu & Viruses | North America | World Health

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