Ebola is an awful disease. The worst strains kill about 90 percent of the people who catch it. Hospitals have no useful treatment and it usually shows up first in hospitals with poor facilities, so medical staff often figure prominently in the second wave of cases. Sadly still know not enough about where it comes from. It thus came as a surprise when a terrible outbreak showed up in Equatorial Guinea and Liberia, a long way from its usual home in the Congo. So far one hundred and six have died out of 159 confirmed or suspected cases, but today brings some bits of good news.
First, the epidemic seems to have crested. As long as the Liberian cases do not reach the capitol we might have seen the worst of this outbreak. The death rate is also low for this strain of ebola, with 37 recoveries so far, but a chance of mortality over seventy percent is still not exactly good.
Second, in today’s Nature a research team reports a promising potential drug to fight ebola and similar filoviruses. If it passes human trials this drug, coded BCX4430, will finally subdue a nightmare that has kept a lot of medical experts awake for the last twenty years.