In a breakthrough discovery, scientists have developed anti-viral-based therapies that have the potential to protect humans from the deadly Ebola virus.
In the study, eight British health-care workers were evacuated to the Royal Free Hospital in London, UK after possible accidental exposure to Ebola virus in Sierra Leone between January and March 2015.
Four of the healthcare workers were considered to have been at significant risk of exposure to Ebola from needlestick injuries and were given post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) with the antiviral drug favipiravir, with or without monoclonal antibodies.
None of the health-care workers went on to develop Ebola. All eight healthcare workers remained healthy throughout the 42 day follow-up, with no signs of disease or detectable levels of virus in their blood.
Lead author Michael Jacobs of the Royal Free NHS Foundation Trust said that it was possible that none of these health-care workers were infected with Ebola virus, and added that they cannot know for sure whether or not post-exposure prophylaxis prevented the onset of Ebola-virus disease.
However, Jacobs mentioned that two of the workers had needlestick injuries contaminated with fresh blood from patients with Ebola virus disease putting them at very high risk of transmission.
Jacobs concluded that a similar approach to treat household contacts of Ebola cases might work to prevent a major route of spread during an epidemic.
The study is published in the Journal Lancet Infectious Diseases.