While there are some therapies that have been used to successfully treat patients infected with other types of viral hemorrhagic fevers (VHFs), there are no substantiated treatments and there is no cure for EVD. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet approved a vaccine or treatment for EVD, but there are various experimental blood, immunological, and drug therapies that are currently being developed and tested for effectiveness and safety.
Patients provided with intensive supportive care have an increased chance of survival. These interventions, when used early in the course of disease, can improve the infected person's chance of survival. Basic supportive treatments and interventions may include:
- Monitoring and maintaining the patient's blood pressure
- Providing oxygen or assisted ventilation to assist breathing
- Helping to clear waste in the patient's blood using dialysis
- Administering intravenous (IV) fluids to hydrate and maintain electrolyte balance
- Treating other infections, if they occur
Recovery is dependent on the quality of supportive care that is received and the patient's immune response.
Patients who recover from EVD are no longer infectious and can no longer spread the disease. Lingering effects of the disease may leave patients in a weakened state and they can develop chronic, long-term complications such as joint and vision problems. Abstinence from sex is recommended for at least 3 months, because Ebola has been isolated in semen for up to 3 months.
Surviving EVD means that the patient has antibodies against that strain that can last at least 10 years, but scientists are unsure if survivors remain immune for life. It is not known if a different strain/species of Ebola could infect an EVD survivor.