Time Magazine's 2014 Person of the Year, Dr. Kent Brantly, was this year's Kathryn Robertson Memorial Lecture in Global Health at our university. Today he shared his story with us. Straight out of his family medicine residency, he served as a medical missionary in Liberia where he contracted Ebola Virus and made headline news as the first Ebola victim who received the experimental drug, ZMapp, and also the first American to return to the US for further treatment.
His lecture, "Fighting Ebola: Choosing compassion over fear" was inspiring, educational, and left the audience recalling why many of us became medical professionals: to compassionately help others.
Below is some information regarding the Ebola epidemic, and where we are now as a scientific community in eradicating this devastating disease:
-Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever is caused by a highly contagious virus.
-The largest Ebola outbreak in history occurred in West Africa (mainly Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia) in 2014 with over 28,000 reported cases and over 11,000 deaths. There were 4 confirmed cases in the United States.
-Since the outbreak, a handful of "flare ups" have been identified in West Africa, thought to be 2/2 sexual transmission (via semen) in Ebola survivors.
-Healthcare workers are at particularly high risk of contracting Ebola when working with this patient population. The CDC has developed guidelines of how healthcare workers can prepare and appropriately use personal protective equipment
-There are currently no FDA approved drugs to treat Ebola, and the mainstay of treatment is supportive care. ZMapp, the experimental medication that Dr. Brantly received, is made up of 3 monoclonal antibodies developed in collaboration between American and Canadian laboratories. Though a randomized controlled study was performed and trended towards showing efficacy of ZMapp, it did not reach statistical significance for their study population of 72 patients (NEJM Oct 16).