23 Jan Ebola Crisis
Ebola has been named one of the most deadly diseases by the World Health Organization (WHO). It has dominated the headlines worldwide as it continues to decimate areas of West Africa along with causing a scare to the international community due to frequent travelers to different countries from this region. One of the reasons why there is so much fear surrounding the Ebola virus are the effects that the virus has on infected individuals.
Ebola hemorrhagic fever is caused by one of five Ebola virus strains in which the Zaire strain is the most deadly. The speed and mechanism of proliferation of the Ebola virus in the body is devastating to the infected individual. Ebola is only spread through the contact of an infected individual’s body fluids. The virus itself is very infectious because exposure to a small amount of the virus can infect a person.
The virus is non-discriminant when attacking the body and attacks every organ and tissue in the body. The virus can spread to the liver, kidneys, spleen, and brain rather quickly. At first, an infected individual can present with fever and flu-like symptoms, nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, red eyes, and bleeding (internally and externally). Symptoms can appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days, but usually occur within 8 to 10 days. Without great supportive care, death is highly likely and there is currently not a cure for Ebola.
Two issues that are affecting the quality of care for Ebola infected patients in these countries in West Africa are the proper training of how to deal with the Ebola virus and the lack of equipment and supplies. Without proper training and equipment, healthcare workers that are caring for the Ebola patients will run a high chance of becoming infected themselves. Without proper supplies, the healthcare workers cannot administer what is needed for the patients at time that would mean life or death. One of the keys to successful treatment for Ebola patients is proper hydration and electrolyte management. Some infected patients have to drink multiple liters of an oral rehydration solution (ORS) a day while fighting the deadly virus to stay hydrated and alive.
As a practicing pharmacist, I really understand the need for an ORS in the supportive care of the infected Ebola patients. One thing that really sticks out to me is having a solution that tastes good so the patient will be able to drink and keep the ORS in their system while maintain the medical integrity of the solution. When practicing pharmacy behind the bench, I understand how taste affects the delivery of medications to the intended patients. Many times, I would have to flavor an amoxicillin suspension for a child so they would take it. If the child does not take the medication, it does them no good. We need to have an ORS that is palatable for these Ebola patients to drink with ease to get them faster through the recovery process to return to their families. The pharmacist in me wants to help these patients get the treatment they need to survive.
Project HOPE is one of the medical NGO’s that is in the “heart” of the West Africa giving the needed training, equipment and supplies, and sheer manpower to help in this crisis. They are working with many other organizations to help these Ebola stricken areas with the critical things that help save lives. We as an organization are very moved by their work and dedication and are happy to help with donating NormaLyte to the cause. I ask that that you also get involved with Project HOPE in crisis in West Africa. Watch the news, read the articles, and see for yourself what is going on. It is easy to donate via www.projecthope.org. Click on the link and see where you can make a difference.
Written by Sam Lee