American Ebola Patients Injected With Experimental Drug

ABC News' Dr. Richard Besser has the details on the treatment that eyewitnesses say has improved their health dramatically.
10:19 | 08/04/14

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Transcript for American Ebola Patients Injected With Experimental Drug
One American Ebola patient being treated in Atlanta and another. On their way to -- workers being treated at Emory university hospital in Atlanta after being injected. Within XP or mental anti -- Local and I'm Dan Butler in New York a mysterious anti serum that eyewitnesses say improved the patient's health dramatically. So the tells more about what this is an answer some questions about -- -- I want to bring in ABC's chief health and medical editor doctor Richard pastor doctor Lester thank you being with us. What is this anti -- Well it's it's day an antibody product -- when your body is is infected with any organism you develops on the called antibodies teaser. Immune factors that helped destroy that particular -- This product is derived from monkeys the monkeys who were infected with the -- it's a product that was derived for them and then manufactured. Outside of monkeys to -- create this and a body. What we understand is that the drug was given to both individuals Nancy right ball and doctor Brantley. It was given to them -- in Liberia. It was given to doctor -- before he traveled at a time when supposedly he was he was quite ill. And according to samaritans purse he responded dramatically he responded quickly to that product. An answer right -- received one dose did not respond to that much it received this second dose. And then. From from what we understand their their condition has both improved. Do we know that a long process this creation of this anti Sarah was made is this something I understand. The process for getting FDA approval for any other kind of guidelines are put into place. How long's this been in the works do we know whether this drug is not approved for human use it's never been tested in humans it's only been tested in in animals. And I would urge a lot of caution around this there's a lot in this story that that doesn't. Hold tight for me and it's very important -- when when you're dealing with a deadly disease like this and you hear word of a miracle cure that you take with a grain of salt. Many things that look good when given once. When they -- their tried in a trial really don't work or have side effects that are are quite dangerous. The very nature of a bowl and what it does to your body. Is quite extreme in and I have a hard time medically. Taking Howell a drug of any kind could cause a rapid turnaround in twenty minutes the only medical situation where you -- to see that is -- asthma. We give a drug it opens up someone's lungs and they and they feel so much better all at once. I would urge a lot of caution on the story it's terrific that they're both doing better. But the miracle drug aspect of this I'm I'm a little skeptical what I want to ask you maybe a little bit further on that given the fact that this is the worst case of Ebola outbreak in history now. What has been a process for developing some kind of -- some kind of a cure given the deadly nature of -- -- slow process obviously for any kind of approval. But how high up -- it then. On the list of concerns of demands for some of these drug manufacture it's been it's been very low when you look at what drives a lot of the research it's it's it is national institutes of health and -- and their budget. And when you think of all the health problems that are faced. The -- is not very high up on the list it was mainly of the interest during. An earlier period in the two thousands when there's a lot of money coming for bioterrorism research because of concerns. That agents likable -- might have a bioterrorism potential. And so work going on -- around vaccines and around drug treatment. But but you know there's been very little in the way of clinical trials there was another drug that went through early clinical trials and was put on hold. Because of side effects in in one of the subjects in that trial. But the -- administration what they've said to me is that drugs are available under what's called compassionate use. And that's what's happened in this situation is that a company can ask for the release of their drug even before its approved. For compassionate use when someone is facing a life threatening illness and there are there are allowed to give it even though it it's not. It's not approved for general use. Do we know at this point the manufacturer behind us anti Sarah yeah it's. And -- PPI much -- -- pronounced as as map. They're not releasing a lot of information. Their their very small company. And so it's been very hard to get information out of them but they're the manufacture of the of this product. -- have more information on that tonight on world news we'll be looking forward to that is well do we know fact it -- they plan on mass producing this at all. I don't know the answer that question you have before you would mass produce a drug you would really need to have to put it into a trial. And you know one of the big questions is why -- their drug trials going on. In West Africa where the -- outbreak is is is so devastating. But when you see the reports coming out of these countries it's -- pretty chaotic situation you have a situation where. People aren't willing to go for medical care because the quality of medical care is so is so -- I don't fault somebody for going -- not wanting to go to a hospital where if they don't have Ebola there's a chance they could pick it up. An and so the thought of conducting a true clinical trial where you're giving some people would. A drug and some people AB a a placebo or sugar pill. I don't think it would be a very. Conducive place to do that. If we're able to put a lot more resources into there you'd like to be able to offer something because this is such a devastating outbreak to the basics and -- -- a lot of misconceptions are out there is not airborne. How is it spread. There's a lot of misconceptions people people worry that this spreads like like the flu. But compared to things like the flu like measles like -- virus. -- is very hard to get you need to have very close contact with an individual. Who is sick with a -- you don't spread it before your -- like you you could with the flu you have to have contact with their body fluids. That's why in some of these outbreaks as many as 25%. Of people who get a bola. Our health care workers because they're dealing with patients every day. They have the opportunity for exposure there was just to report today that it Dr. in Nigeria. Has come down with with a -- and he was one of the people who took care of the American man who flew from Liberia to Nigeria last week. And it came down with the -- and died very quickly but one of the doctors who cared for that American has has died. And there's big concerns whether other people in Nigeria. Have been been been infected with this Nigeria is a great concern because it's such an economic -- And there's there's a lot of travel from Nigeria. To to the Middle East to China to other areas. And you can have this infection brewing in your body for up to three weeks before you shows symptoms and and if this were to spread beyond Nigeria it's it's a great concern. -- -- -- more nature of this virus he said that it can basically -- -- your body almost undetected for three with almost a month essentially. How long then does the virus stay within the body before actually it's your -- comes to. Well you know the typically occupation period -- is it is about eight to ten days since that time from when you're exposed when you develop yours your symptoms. Then then people tend to declare themselves pretty quickly as as either going to die from this and they have a a pretty rapid rapid decline with kidney failure liver failure. Or they're gonna recover from this disease so you know eight to ten days out you should have a good sense whether this is someone who's who's who's going to going to make it. If you recover. What would people tell me who have treated patient with a bowl after that acute phase that eight to ten days. You you're not very contagious you can't get this -- find this virus in a person's blood. And so in Africa that's when patients have been able to go home they haven't seen family members picking up the the infection at that time. You can you can still isolated recover this virus from breast milk and from semen for up to ninety days and so. When they send patients home they they recommend condoms during that ninety day period. But they have not seen people after that acute phase spreading the infection in their homes. The last -- -- ask you this then why is what are the symptoms that to detect for screening at airports or any kind of port of entry because obviously there's a lot of concern. -- these two patients coming to United States some people -- their own safety and exactly how it back quickly detect if someone was. Was infected with Ebola Virus we were hearing today that in Nigeria they're doing airport screening airport screening is not very effective at all. Several reasons for that one ended that we just mentioned is that for 21 days you have no symptoms -- can come in when you don't have a fever. If you have a fever and you take a little acetaminophen or Ibuprofen when he comes through the airport you're not gonna have a fever. And then when you look at the things that cause fever if bullet is very very low on the list and the times it's been tried back in stars. The with with the airport screening it's been highly ineffective I think and in in in Hong Kong -- screen several million people and identified two individuals. Who may have had had stars it's very ineffective. And so if you're looking at what you want to do with fewer health care workers. Airports screenings not the way to go you're very unlikely to keep out a case of a bowl -- that way you'd rather. Put those people on tracking contacts have of existing cases in doing things that are likely to have an impact on controlling disease in your country. And of course more details coming up tonight as -- set on world news with Diane Sawyer. Doctor -- thanks much for your time and information we appreciate that look forward to report coming up later on this afternoon. And of course you can keep up with the story in real time by downloading -- BC news' top story short -- what's about to go. For now I'm Dan Butler -- New York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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