Health officials say it is not yet understood why some patients manage to recover, while so many others die. However, effective supportive care can make a big difference in the survival rate. These measures may include giving a patient intravenous fluids and electrolytes to counter dehydration caused by excessive vomiting and diarrhea; maintaining the patient's blood pressure; giving transfusions to replace blood lost due to hemorrhaging; as well as treating any subsequent infections that result from the virus.
"We depend of the body's defense to control the virus," claimed Dr. Bruce Ribner, who specializes in infectious diseases at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta and led the team that treated two American aid workers who contracted the virus in Liberia over the summer. "We just have to keep the patient alive long enough, in order to survive the infection."