When the virus enters the body, it induces a total overreaction in first-responder immune cells. They send a torrent of panic signals that trigger a physiological disaster: fever, pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and—if left unchecked—death. The infection moves so fast that the body’s second phase of the immune response—making antibodies that attack the virus—never has a chance to kick in. So Doctors Without Borders clinics figured out that they could reduce Ebola’s lethality with intense supportive care: Keep patients alive long enough—with antibiotics, acetaminophen and other pain medications, vitamins, and oral or intravenous fluids—and their bodies would have time to start fighting the disease. The protocol treats dehydration and weakness and, combined with soft drinks, food, and water, helps the majority of patients survive. “There’s nothing more joyous than when someone says, ‘I’m hungry, give me rice.’ Then you know you’re going to be OK,” says physician Kirrily de Polnay, who worked with Doctors Without Borders.
Gripping account of what was a really terrifying epidemic. There is evidently hope for patients who receive proper care but unfortunately in desperately poor countries the patients don’t always receive the best medical attention.