3 reasons U.S. Ebola patients recover faster than those in West Africa

Medical experts have several theories on why, despite Ebola's devastating body count in West Africa, only one patient with the virus, Thomas Eric Duncan, has died in the United States, with all eight other patients treated in U.S hospitals either recovering or still alive, CNN reports. Possible reasons include:

  • Amber Vinson and Nina Pham, the two Dallas nurses who cared for Duncan, are 29 and 26, respectively. "We know from a lot of data coming out Africa that younger patients do much better than patients who are older," Bruce Ribner, M.D., of Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, who treated Vinson, told CNN.

  • Duncan was the only Ebola patient in the U.S. not treated in one of four hospitals that made special preparations for diseases like Ebola over a period of years.

  • Duncan did not receive experimental medicine until six days after his admission to the hospital, compared to four other U.S. patients who received it immediately. "Mr. Duncan had an unfortunate delay in diagnosis and did not receive an experimental therapy until just before he died," Robert Murphy, director of the Center for Global Health at Northwestern University in Chicago, told USA Today. "That did not help his case."

In addition to Duncan and the two Dallas nurses, U.S. Ebola patients include a New York City doctor and American missionaries who helped care for Ebola patients in West Africa.

Containing the outbreak in Africa is vitally important to prevent its spread, according to NBC News. Despite the good news for U.S. patients, "if … this disease spreads, then we're all in trouble," Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf told NBC News. Liberia has been hardest-hit by the outbreak. 

The World Health Organization calls the Ebola outbreak the worst on record and has confirmed more than 10,000 cases of the virus, with Mali seeing its first case, and nearly 5,000 deaths.

Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recommended 21-day quarantines for all members of the military returning from countries affected by the Ebola virus, according to the New York Times.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is expected to announce he will follow the recommendations shortly, according to the Times. Dempsey's recommendation comes in the wake of a directive from Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno ordering a 21-day period of "controlled monitoring" for Army personnel upon their return from West African countries, the article states.

To learn more:
- read the Times article
- here's the CNN article
- check out the USA Today article
- here's the NBC article
- here are the WHO statistics (.pdf)