The much-dreaded Ebola outbreak has hit the U.S. shores. The Center for Disease Prevention and Control confirmed yesterday that the first Ebola patient was diagnosed in Dallas, Texas. The unnamed patient arrived from Liberia to Texas on September 20. He showed no symptoms of the disease during his flight to the U.S., CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden said. Though many Americans have contracted the virus in the past few months, they were all medical and aid workers. And all of them were diagnosed with Ebola while still in West Africa.
The worst ever Ebola outbreak
The report of an Ebola case in the U.S. fueled a rally in stocks of pharmaceutical companies that have been developing treatments for the deadly virus. Investors hope that drugs of these companies may now be approved by regulators with a little more urgency to tackle the outbreak. Ebola has already claimed over 3,000 lives in West Africa.
Shares of Canadian company Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corporation (NASDAQ:TKMR) jumped a whopping 24.88% in pre-market trading Wednesday. The company is developed a drug called TKM-Ebola that is currently in clinical trials phase. Tekmira said last week that the Canadian and U.S. regulators have authorized the use of its drug in patients with suspected or confirmed Ebola infections.
Tekmira’s treatment prevents the virus from replicating. According to the Nebraska Medical Center, the Canadian company’s drug was given to Rick Sacra, a doctor who was diagnosed with Ebola in West Africa. Another gainer was BioCryst Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:BCRX). Shares of BioCryst skidded 6.77% in regular trading Tuesday, but rose 13.70% in pre-market trading Wednesday. The Durham-based biotech company already develops treatments for many infectious diseases.
NewLink Genetics also jumps about 14%
Sarepta Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:SRPT) shares also jumped 6.64% to $22.50. The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company develops treatments for rare and contagious diseases. Sarepta has been developing its Ebola candidate AVI-7537 in collaboration with the U.S. military since 2010. Iowa-based NewLink Genetics Corp also witnessed a 13.73% rise in its stock. NewLink recently began clinical trials of its Ebola candidate.
The CDC estimates that the Ebola virus could infect up to 1.4 million people in West Africa by January 2015.