Saving lives without new drugs

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Science  21 Nov 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6212, pp. 911
DOI: 10.1126/science.346.6212.911


Many people treated for Ebola in West Africa have received bare-bones care in overwhelmed facilities that had few resources, contributing to a case fatality rate (CFR) of about 70%. Of the 20 patients treated in the United States and Europe, only five have died, a CRF of 25%, and the ones who did not recover tended to begin their care at the latest stages of disease. Now, a push is on for what's dubbed Maximum Use of Supportive Care (MUST), which would offer Ebola patients in West Africa the basic life-saving interventions common in wealthier countries. MUST includes intravenous fluids to combat dehydration; balancing of electrolytes; nasogastric tubes for feedings; and medicines to counter diarrhea, vomiting, and secondary infections like bacterial sepsis and malaria. Estimates suggest that MUST would cost no more than $600 per patient.

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