Ebola patients are much more likely to survive if they are hospitalized soon after being infected, a new study finds.
Researchers analyzed data from nearly 1,000 cases of Ebola virus that occurred in the Democratic Republic of Congo over 38 years. They found that each day of delay in hospital admission was associated with an 11 percent higher risk of death during epidemics.
Delays in hospitalization were caused by factors such as geography, infrastructure and cultural influences, the researchers said.
The Democratic Republic of Congo has had more Ebola outbreaks than any other country since the deadly virus was discovered in 1976, they noted.
The researchers also found that rapidly progressing Ebola outbreaks are swiftly brought under control, while national and international responses to slower-progressing outbreaks tend to be less intense. As a result, those outbreaks last longer, the study authors said.
The study was published Nov. 3 in the journal eLife.
Another finding was that nearly all the epidemics in the study were in decline before national or international efforts — such as creating isolation centers — were in place. Behavioral changes by people in the affected communities could explain these early declines in the outbreaks, Alicia Rosello, of University College London and Public Health England, and colleagues said in a journal news release.
The study also discovered that adults aged 25 to 64 were more likely to be affected by Ebola than people of other ages. This is similar to what occurred during the recent outbreak in West Africa. One possible reason for this is that adults in this age group are most likely to care for Ebola patients, the researchers said.
During the outbreaks examined in the study, children aged 5 to 15 were least likely to be infected with Ebola or to die from it. In contrast, the study found that all children under age 2 who were infected with Ebola died.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about Ebola.