Miguel Pajares, a 75-year-old Spanish priest who has been doing missionary work in Liberia for the last five decades, has been admitted to a hospital in Madrid to be treated for Ebola along with his colleague Juliana Bohl who has tested negative but will remain under observation for the time being. Pajares contracted Ebola while helping to treat patients in Monrovia and tested positive earlier this week, reports Hannah Strange for The Telegraph.
Spain will request serum if it proves effective
Ebola has no known cure and is usually fatal, but doctors have been initially optimistic about Pajares’s condition because he doesn’t currently have a fever. Even though there isn’t a cure, receiving treatment early still improves the chances of survival. An experimental serum has been administered to two Americans infected with Ebola who have showed signs of improvement, but doctors won’t request the serum for Pajares until there is more evidence that it works.
“We do not know of the scientific evidence, the scientific basis, the results that this serum can provide,” said Antonio Alemany, director general of primary healthcare in Madrid. “Obviously, if the serum is effective then the Spanish government will make contact to be able to use this treatment.”
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There has been a lot of criticism that a potential treatment for Ebola remained under the radar while the disease was killing West Africans but was immediately made available for American patients, though you wouldn’t expect an experimental drug to be in mass production. But if the drug is also sent to Europe and remains unavailable in Africa you can expect that criticism to grow.
Ebola outbreak in the US or Europe very unlikely
The prospect of an Ebola outbreak is scary, but it is extremely unlikely that it would spread to the US and Europe generally. The patients who were flown home for treatment have been kept under quarantine, and Ebola doesn’t spread very easily requiring direct contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids. The US and Europe also have better infrastructure in place for identifying and quarantining infected people when necessary. When the far more infectious SARS made it to Ontario in 2003, officials were able to quarantine thousands of people and keep the number of deaths in the forties, out of more than 8000 deaths worldwide mostly in China and Hong Kong.