At least eight Ebola patients in Guinea have beaten the odds. They have recovered and been sent home. In past outbreaks, the death rate has been as high as 90 percent. In Guinea so far, about 60 percent of the 157 suspected cases have ended in death.
The first seven to 10 days after infection is the "peak of the illness," when people are most likely to die, says Barbara Knust, an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. But if the body begins to produce antibodies to fight off the infection, then there's hope.
Doctors on the scene think the treatment regimen may play a role in boosting survival odds.
"It's hard to say conclusively that what we are able to give treatmentwise is causing that increased survival rate," says Tom Fletcher, an infectious diseases physician who is with the World Health Organization team in Guinea. "But we think interventions such as intravenous fluids, IV antibiotics and paying attention to symptom control and nutrition are probably all important." Such care has not always been available to patients during past Ebola episodes.