Nigeria declared Ebola-free; 'spectacular success'
ABUJA, Nigeria (AP): Water laced with salt and sugar, and gallons of the nasty-tasting stuff.
Doctors who survived Ebola in Nigeria credited heavy doses of fluids with saving their lives as the World Health Organization declared the country Ebola-free yesterday, a rare victory in the battle against the disease that is ravaging West Africa.
In the end, Nigeria - the most populous country in Africa, with 160 million people - had just 20 cases, including eight deaths, a lower death rate than the 70 per cent seen elsewhere across the stricken region.
Officials are crediting strong tracking and isolation of people exposed to the virus, and aggressive rehydration of infected patients to counter the effects of vomiting, diarrhoea and other symptoms.
Nigeria's containment of Ebola is a "spectacular success story," said Rui Gama Vaz, WHO director for Nigeria.
Survivor Dr Adaora Igonoh said the treatment is not easy. It entails drinking, as she did, at least five litres (1.3 gallons) of the solution every day for five or six days when you have mouth sores and a sore throat and feel depressed.
"You don't want to drink anything. You're too weak, and with the sore throat it's difficult to swallow, but you know when you have just vomited, you need it," she told The Associated Press. "I had to mentally tell myself, 'You have got to drink this fluid, whether it tastes nice or not.'"
Some 9,000 people have been infected with Ebola, and about 4,500 have died, mostly in hard-hit Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, with the number of cases expected to increase exponentially in the coming weeks.
Dr Simon Mardel, one of the world's leading experts on viral haemorrhagic fevers, said the number of deaths could be cut in half if infected people were taught to properly hydrate themselves and not take anti-inflammatory drugs, which can actually harm Ebola victims.
In other Ebola developments
About 120 people in the US are being monitored for symptoms because they may have had contact with one of Dallas' three Ebola victims. More than 40 others have been given the all-clear after the 21-day maximum incubation period for the virus ended.
The European Union stepped up efforts to raise nearly $1.3 billion to combat the outbreak.
President Barack Obama is working the phones with world leaders, appealing to them to join the fight.
WHO director Margaret Chan said that an internal WHO report obtained by the AP that said the UN agency's bungled efforts to control the outbreak was "a work in progress," and "the facts have not been fully checked."
Mardel, of Britain's University Hospital of South Manchester, called rehydration a low-tech approach that has been neglected by a medical system focused on groundbreaking research.