More than the disease itself, global health experts are on their toes monitoring the spread of the Ebola virus because it has already managed to infiltrate urban areas. This year's outbreak has been dubbed the worst outbreak yet since it was first identified in the 1970s. But hope remains in the experimental serum administered to two infected American patients.
The experimental drug against Ebola, called ZMapp, seemed to have instantly worked its magic on American missionary worker Dr Kent Brantly, judging on video footage showing him able to walk on his own to the Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.
He was administered the serum before he got into the aircraft that flew him back to the U.S. from Liberia.
While the spread of the virus was outpacing the expectations of the World Health Organisation, Ebola, although infectious, is it not highly contagious. One gets the virus through a combination of poor hygiene, plus direct contact with the body fluids of an infected person or someone who has just died from it.
However, the worrying part is once the virus gets through, it spreads easily and devours its host almost instantly.
If the experimental serum does fully work on Brantly, then it is hoped that it would avert the apocalyptic style plague long forecast in Rev. 6:1-8, the four horsemen of the apocalypse, known as Pestilence, War, Famine and Death.
Produced by Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc., ZMapp has not been evaluated for safety in humans.
"As such, very little of the drug is currently available," Larry Zeitlin, company president, said in a statement.
But small experiments with monkeys said it showed promise to counter the Ebola virus.
James Pettitt of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases said the treatment known as MB-003 protected 100 per cent of non-human primates during experiment when administered one hour after exposure to Ebola.
When given 48 hours after exposure, it was able to protect two-thirds of the animals.
The study of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases showed the treatment, administered intravenously 104 to 120 hours after infection, managed to protect 43 per cent of the infected non-human primates.
"I would be ecstatic if Larry's product helped save these people, but I also need to be extremely cautious," the LA Times quoted Thomas Geisbert, a professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.
"To say the whole thing cleared up in an hour, that doesn't happen in reality," Geisbert said. "That's like something that happens in a movie."
To date, 1,600 people have been infected by the Ebola virus. Nearly 900 have died. It started in Northern Guinea in March 2014, crossing over to Liberia and Sierra Leone. It has now made its imprint in Lagos.
The case of the two infected American patients, meantime, are quite different because the U.S. CDC opted to bring them in, and the virus, into the country for treatment.
The U.S. military's Defense Threat Reduction Agency has recently approved additional funding for Mapp Biopharmaceutical to produce sufficient quantity "to perform a Phase 1 clinical safety study."
"Though it was given to one person and then a second person doesn't mean and there were positive outcomes; it doesn't mean that giving it to 100 people there won't be complications," News10 quoted UNT Health Science Center Chair of Internal Medicine Dr Darrin D'Agostino. "The real issue is making sure the science is true and sound."