The levels of Ebola virus in a patient’s blood can strongly predict the risk of death, a new study finds.
Researchers evaluated data on nearly 700 people in the West African nation of Guinea who were hospitalized with Ebola between March 2014 and February 2015.
A better understanding of the link between blood levels of Ebola and death risk will help researchers better assess the effectiveness of treatments, the study authors said.
They found that death rates were 21 percent among those with low blood levels of the virus, 53 percent among those with medium levels, and 81 percent among those with high levels.
When patients’ average levels of Ebola in the blood increased 10-fold in July 2014, the death rate rose 14 percent, according to researchers led by Amadou Alpha Sall of the Pasteur Institute of Dakar, Senegal, and Simon Cauchemez of the Pasteur Institute in Paris, France.
The 2014 Ebola epidemic, the largest in history, caused more than 11,000 deaths in West Africa.
The study, published Dec. 1 in the journal PLOS Medicine, also found a link between age and mortality. Those younger than 5 and older than 45 had higher death rates compared to patients ages 15 to 44. Children ages 5 to 14 had lower death rates than the 15- to 44-year-olds, the researchers said.
They cautioned, however, that the results might not apply outside a hospital setting.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about Ebola.