Steve Shaw, a doctor with Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, shared his experience in treating and curing the first Briton infected with Ebola at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) Shenzhen Hospital yesterday.
The most important thing in treating Ebola patients is to give them basic care and to rehydrate them, Shaw said.
Shaw leads the urgent care division at Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, London. The hospital received the country’s first Ebola patient in late August. The patient contracted the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone when he was volunteering at a clinic there, according to the BBC.
He was recovering a week after being treated in isolation at the hospital’s high-level infectious disease unit, Shaw said.
“The patient was very carefully managed with supportive care, enough fluids and intensive nursing at our hospital,” Shaw said.
The outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa has claimed 5,160 lives as of Nov. 12, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Ebola only spreads through human-to-human transmission via direct contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people.
No proven vaccine or cure is currently available, but drug trials are being fast-tracked. As long as it proves to be safe and effective, a vaccine against the disease may be available next year, Shaw said.
There are so far no Ebola cases that have been reported in China, making it more worthwhile to learn how to deal with the disease from experienced countries, said Christopher Hui, consultant and clinical lead at HKU Shenzhen Hospital’s Department of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
“In terms of sharing experiences, it’s very important when you have very few patients, very limited experiences of new drugs and new treatments. It’s very useful to talk to each other so that we understand how better to do things and we can learn quickly that way,” Hui said.
“The WHO has encouraged everyone to share their experiences,” Shaw said. “So it supports the use of experimental drugs. These drugs should be shared in the international community so that we can all benefit from them.”
Shenzhen has been on vigilant guard for the disease. The city’s center for disease control and prevention has established a monitoring system for people who enter the city from infected areas in Africa within 21 days of their departure, an incubation period for the disease.
Anyone whose body temperature is above 37.5 degrees Celsius will be taken to Shenzhen No. 3 People’s Hospital, the designated hospital to treat potential Ebola patients. Blood test results will be announced around five hours following a potential Ebola patient’s admission to a hospital, according to the center.