French MSF nurse 'cured' of Ebola, health minister says
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A French nurse who contracted Ebola in Liberia while volunteering for Doctors Without Borders (Médecins sans frontières, or MSF) "is now cured and has left the hospital", Health Minister Marisol Touraine said in a statement on Saturday.
The first French national to be infected with the virus in the latest outbreak was airlifted back to France on September 19 to receive experimental treatment at the Bégin military hospital on the outskirts of Paris. Her name has not been made public.
Ebola has killed more than 3,400 people in West Africa in the worst-ever outbreak of the disease.
There is no licensed treatment or vaccine for Ebola. Of several prototype treatments in the pipeline, one dubbed ZMapp has been fast-tracked for use, developed by Mapp Biopharmaceutical in California, in conjunction with the US Army.
Touraine has authorised the use of three experimental drugs for the treatment of Ebola in France, including the antiviral medicine Avigan – also known as favipiravir – which is produced by Japanese firm Toyama Chemical, a subsidiary of FujiFilm Holdings.
The company said the nurse had been given Avigan, which was approved in Japan in March.
Ebola spreads through contact with bodily fluids and stopping an outbreak involves completely isolating those who are sick. But with more than 7,400 people now believed to be infected – most of them in countries with woefully inadequate health systems – there are far more people infected than there are beds in isolation units in which to quarantine them.
The hardest-hit countries of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone have all issued guidelines encouraging people to avoid bodily contact and to wash their hands frequently. The disease has also been seen in Nigeria and Senegal, but neither country has reported a new infection in weeks.
The United States confirmed its first case this week in a traveller arriving from Liberia.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP and AP)