The experimental serum therapy has finally reached Liberia in the hopes of alleviating the disease in the most Ebola-afflicted country in West Africa.
Serum therapy comes from the antibodies found in the blood of Ebola survivors. Medical practitioners report that survivors have successfully combated the virus to ease its harmful effects. Doctors then take blood samples from survivors and extract the important antibodies to create the serum. The therapy has already been administered in the US and the UK.
Despite the existence of serum therapy, scientists remain on a search for other treatments to Ebola. There are currently several controlled clinical trials across Canada, the US, and the UK. These programs aim to provide 20,000 doses to be sent to West Africa by early 2015.
Rising Death Toll
The treatment hopes to slow down – and eventually, stop – the increasing death toll from the Ebola virus. As of December 14, the World Health Organization says the death toll has climbed to 6,841. The same report said there are 18,464 suspected, probable, and confirmed cases of the disease.
The highest number of Ebola-related deaths is in Liberia, with 7,790 cumulative cases and 3,290 deaths. Sierra Leone and Guinea rank second and third.
Given the severity of the situation, the Liberian government has decided to postpone its senatorial elections to focus more on finding a solution for Ebola. It remains unclear whether or not the government would – once again – suspend the said elections come the newly set date of December 20.
The Bane of Survivors
But Ebola patients are not the only ones with a big problem. News reports show that survivors experience dilemmas after they have beaten the disease.
“There is so little written about post-Ebola problems. We don’t know if it’s the drugs that are causing it, the disease, or just stress,” WHO consultant Maggie Nanyonga told Al Jazeera.
Many survivors in Sierra Leone complain about pains all around the body – from the backbone to the joints. Blurred vision, fatigue, and weakness are common complaints, too. The majority of survivors suffer from peeling of the skin, as well as difficulties in sleeping and breathing. Some survivors also complain about problems with their reproductive systems.
Physical symptoms are just half of what the Ebola survivors are going through. The disease has also caused the former patients social problems. Some of them report being evicted from their respective homes and communities. A great portion of the population has lost jobs as well. The survivors have become social pariahs, says reports.