Doctor with IU ties contracts Ebola in Africa

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WFLI) – A doctor with Indiana connections is one of two American doctors to contract the Ebola virus while working in Africa.

Doctor Kent Brantly graduated from the Indiana University’s School of Medicine in 2009. Brantley was working in Liberia when he contracted the virus. He’s in serious condition at a Hospital in Africa.

Associate professor David Sanders studies how viruses spread from animals to humans and is one of 20 people who study the Ebola virus.

Sanders said the current Ebola strain is different than previous outbreaks, but is not necessarily more deadly. He said the way people are interacting with each other has made it spread.

While a strong immune system can fight off many diseases, Sanders said in some cases the body’s reaction to the Ebola virus can be more deadly than the virus itself. He said people with stronger immune systems are not as likely to survive the virus because a healthier immune system typically fights the virus harder.

“If you think about what happens when you get a viral infection, all of those symptoms that you have — fatigue, fever, inflammation — those are actually all caused by your own immune system. They’re not caused by the virus,” said Sanders.

Depending on the strain, the fatality rate of the virus can be anywhere from 40 to 80 percent.

The outbreak in Africa has killed nearly 700 people so far. Currently there are no cures for the disease.

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