Saturday, April 11, 2015

Ebola virus diagnostic tool developed by physician who worked in Liberia

News Brief by Catherine Donlon

Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) affected 24,000 people in West Africa in the recent epidemic; over 10,000 people died from the disease, making it the largest EVD epidemic in history. With such a high mortality rate, it is very important for physicians and healthcare providers to be able to diagnosis EVD in patients. Correct diagnoses help save lives because infected individuals can be isolated, and unaffected individuals can leave hospitals, where they are more likely to contract the disease from sick patients. Unfortunately the presence of EVD is difficult to determine in patients due to the fact that its symptoms resemble many other illnesses like a cold, fever, or the flu.

Adam C. Levine, an emergency medicine physician who volunteered in Liberia to treat infected individuals and set up an Ebola Treatment Unit, created a model to help determine which patients needed to be isolated before lab result confirmations were available. He created an Ebola Prediction Score that called for patients to be isolated if they showed six specific symptoms: “sick contact, diarrhea, loss of appetite, muscle pain, difficulty swallowing, absence of abdominal pain.” Of the patients isolated at the Ebola Treatment Unit after this six-symptom model was put into place, 42% of the people were confirmed to have EVD by laboratory tests. Although this model helped in early treatment and diagnosis of EVD in Liberia, there is still a lot of research that needs to be done in order for diagnosis to be more efficient and timely. Advances in EVD diagnosis could save hundreds of lives.

Lifespan. "Ebola virus diagnostic tool developed by physician who worked in Liberia." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 April 2015. .
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