Via Thomson Reuters, a fascinating report by Misha Hussain: Remarkable Ebola recovery rate in north Guinea town puzzles experts. Excerpt:
Three quarters of those suffering from the deadly Ebola virus in a small town in northern Guinea have recovered, an unusually high proportion that is puzzling scientists and aid workers.
The medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) says that 16 of the 21 people suffering from Ebola who entered its treatment centre in Telimele made a full recovery, compared with only 20-40 percent of victims in Gueckedou, the epicentre of the virus in southern Guinea.
The outbreak of Ebola in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone is the largest ever, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which has reported 518 deaths from 844 known cases since February.
MSF said it had closed its treatment centre in Telimele because no new cases had been reported for 21 days – the maximum incubation period for Ebola.
The WHO said that 10 Ebola sufferers had died in Telimele out of 26 cases, the difference from the MSF figures being due to the fact that the five extra cases had not been treated at the MSF centre.
Experts are now trying to work out whether the high recovery rate in the town – where the sample size was very small - was due to genetics, culture, more effective aid, a viral mutation, or faulty laboratory tests.
Michel Van Herp, who has been working on Ebola for MSF all over Africa for the last 20 years, told Thomson Reuters Foundation the figures in Telimele are very surprising, but there may be rational explanations.
“It could be that the people in the north have a different cultural way of taking care of their dead, which may result in a lower viral load, so less virus enters the body than from funeral practices in the south,” he said. In Guinea, relatives stroke the body of the dead person as part of their mourning ritual.
“It could also be down to genetics. In Telimele there is one man who has 12 wives, so he may have disbursed his [Ebola-resistant] chromosome around all the families there,” Van Herp said.