With targeted drugs and vaccines at least months away, doctors and public health experts are learning from Ebola survivors what simple steps helped them beat the infection. Turns out drinking 4 liters (1 gallon) or more of rehydration solution a day -- a challenge for anyone and especially those wracked by relentless bouts of vomiting -- is crucial.
When people are infected, they get dry as a crisp really quickly," said Simon Mardel, an emergency room doctor advising the World Health Organization on Ebola in Sierra Leone. "Then the tragedy is that they don't want to drink."
Aggressive fluid replacement was deemed critical in saving two American health-care workers with Ebola at the Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine last week. Interviews Mardel and WHO colleagues conducted with six of the dozen patients who survived Ebola in Nigeria, where the fatality ratio was much lower, also point to the importance of drinking.