The Democratic Republic of Congo has approved new experimental drugs to treat Ebola as the central African country tries to stem its latest outbreak, the World Health Organization said Wednesday.
An ethics committee said the therapies could be used on the grounds of compassionate care.
The DRC declared a new outbreak of the Ebola virus in early May in the Equateur province. As of Monday there have been 37 confirmed cases, 14 probable cases, seven suspected cases and 27 deaths, according to Peter Salama, deputy director-general for emergency preparedness and response for WHO.
The virus has largely been confined to the city of Mbandaka and surrounding rural towns. Health officials have targeted points of entry into the area for in-depth medical assessments. They also attempted to halt the spread of the disease using an experimental vaccine.
Now they’re looking at experimental treatments. The committee approved three monoclonal antibody cocktails — ZMapp, REGN and mAb 114 — and two antivirals — remdesivir and favipiravir. Medical professionals will determine which of the drugs is appropriate for each case and will only administer the drugs with consent from the patients.
Christophe Boulierac, a spokesman for the U.N. Children’s Fund — or UNICEF — last week said the organization is installing hand-washing stations at more than 270 schools to protect vulnerable children from the virus.
The Ebola virus, which has a two- to 21-day incubation period, causes fever, fatigue, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhea, rash, and, in some cases, internal and external bleeding. It can be transmitted from animals to humans and in human-to-human contact, including sexual intercourse.
While there’s no proven treatment specifically for the virus, people can survive through treatment of the symptoms, including oral and intravenous fluids, and immune and drug therapies.
By Danielle Haynes