Ebola deaths preventable with more emergency health facilities: Aussie researchers

2016-10-17 03:20:00 GMT2016-10-17 11:20:00(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

SYDNEY, Oct. 17 (Xinhua) -- Australian researchers in an international-led study have found that emergency health facilities could hold the key to increasing the survival rate of Ebola patients.

University of Queensland (UQ) epidemiologist Dr Ricardo Soares Magalhaes said Ebola was a highly contagious, acute haemorrhagic fever that was often fatal if not treated and setting up emergency infrastructure was key in combating future outbreaks and reducing the number of deaths from patients contracting the disease.

"Patients who were hospitalised were 74 percent less likely to die in the short term, compared with those people who did not receive medical treatment," he said in a statement on Monday.

Magalhaes, who is from UQ's School of Veterinary Science and Child Health Research Centre, said the University of Florida-led study had examined the disease outbreaks in West Africa in 2014 and found an overall death rate of 53.5 percent, which decreased as access to medical treatment increased.

"People who reported contact with another Ebola case were more likely to be infected, as were those who attended a funeral," he said.

Magalhaes said the research revealed that patient deaths increased with age, and male patients were more likely to die; fever, vomiting, diarrhoea and unexplained bleeding were associated with increased deaths.

"Setting up emergency infrastructure in future outbreaks will be the key to reduce the number of deaths and improve patient outcomes," he said.

At present, researchers found that even treatment with only basic supportive care such as intravenous rehydration therapy could improve Ebola patient survival rates.

"The keys to success are early detection, how fast the disease can be detected and cases isolated, and rapid hospitalisation," Magalhaes said.

Magalhaes said the research was the second study in a series involving Ebola patients in Sierra Leone and the Queensland University of Technology.

"In the first investigation, published in UK's Lancet Global Health, we used digital surveillance, basically five Google search terms for Ebola virus, as an early notification system for an outbreak," he said.

"This anticipated by two weeks the World Health Organisation's official notification of an Ebola virus disease outbreak.

Magalhaes said that although the unprecedented size of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa had challenged the international community's ability to respond to such an emergency, it had also provided unique opportunities to understand ways to control Ebola transmission and improve the clinical management of the disease.

The World Health Organization estimates that as of April 13 this year, the total number of Ebola cases of suspected, probable, and confirmed stood at 28,652 while the total deaths have been reported to be 11,325. Enditem