Like a lot of health professionals I have been reading about the Ebola outbreak and what we, as pharmacists, should provide in the form of information or treatment support.
I have not seen anything from our official bodies, and it may be too late if an outbreak actually occurs within Australia.
The mathematics of the Ebola outbreak reveal a near-impossibility of global containment: it’s already too late.
I have also noted that protocols recommended by WHO and the CDC in the US have already been revised as being inadequate.
For example, the 21 day incubation period has now doubled to 42 days.
That’s a long time to keep someone isolated or contained and makes it difficult when symptoms appear later, rather than sooner.
Recently, an infected nurse travelled on an internal air flight in the US (Dallas- Fort Worth). She had been treating Ebola patients and had an active fever.
She was subsequently found to have active Ebola infection while travelling on the flight.
There is now panic to contact the other 132 passengers who travelled with her on the same plane.
After the flight to Dallas Fort-Worth, the plane made additional flights to Ft. Lauderdale, Cleveland, Atlanta and then back to Cleveland- all people on those additional flights have additional potential to become infected from an Ebola contaminated surface.
These are valid concerns because it is now known (despite previous advice to the contrary) Ebola can be transmitted from contaminated surfaces and that sneezing and coughing can also spread infection.
In our last edition we ran an article on UV light being able to decontaminate surface Ebola .
So this would be the first advice that can be provided to a potential patient also advice as to appropriate eye protection.
UV light efficiently destroys the Ebola virus in a matter of minutes, after irradiation.
And as an extension, you need to be able to source a range of suppliers for these items plus a range of protective clothing and eyewear, disposable gloves, hand washing gel, protective face masks (proper surgical masks-not the common paper disposable type), and disposal bags to contain all contaminated materials.
There is no valid mainstream or natural medicine option for the treatment or prevention of the Ebola virus.
That is until the release of new research published in Nature Journal: Cell Research on the 7th October 2014, relating to the honeysuckle flower having the ability to treat or prevent a range of Influenza A viruses (IAV), and the Ebola virus, the active constituent being labelled MIR2911.
As the first natural product directly targeting different IAVs, MIR2911 not only is the first active component identified in Traditional Chinese Medicine that directly targets various IAVs, but also may represent a novel type of natural product that effectively and directly suppresses a range of viral infections.
Furthermore, one of the ongoing studies shows that MIR2911 also directly targets Ebola virus, which is now pandemic in West Africa and is becoming a crisis of public health.
Thus, MIR2911 is able to serve as the “virological penicillin” to directly target various viruses.
An infected IAV or Ebola patient (or suspect patient) can produce and imbibe a “tea” made from the honeysuckle flower and boiling water.
As a young boy growing up in the Lane Cove area of Sydney, honeysuckle used to grow wild and I used to enjoy sucking the large and sweet flavoured stamen of that flower, along with all the other kids on the block.
So the next recommendation for a patient is that they should source their own supply of honeysuckle – even growing their own.
As this is evidence-based information there is no reason to withhold it from any potential patient.
Because of its ready availability around the world it should not be too long before we see a processed and standardised form that can be sold as an OTC item.
MIR2011 has already been synthesised and found to perform as effectively as the natural version.
This research is extremely important for the following reasons:
* It identifies MIR2911 as the first, active component directly targeting influenza A virus (IAVs). It is well known that Spanish Flu (H1N1) caused about 50 million people to die. Recently reported mortality cases of pathogenic IAVs, such as H5N1 and H7N9 highlight the threat that these viruses pose to public health. Due to the rapid mutation and evolution of IAVs, it is almost impossible to prevent or cure the IAV infection by the same treatment. It is thus urgent to explore a novel therapeutic strategy. With this in mind, plant MIR2911 is an ideal reagent for suppressing IAV infection, and it is fully expected that MIR2911, as well as MIR2911-enriched honeysuckle decoction, will be widely used for treatment of IAVs infection.
* It is the first demonstration that a natural product can directly target virus. Since Fleming discovered penicillin nearly a century ago, antibiotics have been developed to target various bacterial infections and have saved the lives of millions of people. Unfortunately, no natural product that is effective against viral infection has been identified so far. As the first natural product directly targeting different IAVs, plant MIR2911 not only is the first active component identified in Traditional Chinese Medicine that directly targets various IAVs, but also may represent a novel type of natural product that effectively and directly suppresses viral infection. Furthermore, one of the ongoing studies shows that MIR2911 also directly targets Ebola virus, which is pandemic in West Africa and is becoming a crisis of public health. Thus, MIR2911 is able to serve as the “virological penicillin” to directly target various viruses.
* Physiological concentration of MIR2911 in honeysuckle decoction sufficiently targets IAVs. For thousand years, Chinese have been drinking honeysuckle (also termed Lonicera japonica) decoction to treat influenza viral infections and the results show that honeysuckle decoction has a broad-spectrum anti-viral activity. It makes much easier and simpler clinical usage by drinking honeysuckle tea/decoction. These results also provide another evidence to prove their previous discovery that dietary exogenous miRNAs are able to be functionally absorbed by mammalian gastrointestinal tract and play an important regulatory role in a cross-kingdom manner.
* It further supports that exogenous small RNA via the route of food-intake can be delivered into host tissues with sufficient functional concentration. Peak level of MIR2911 in mouse lungs after administration honeysuckle soup is 2.6× 10-5 fmol (equivalent to 15600 copies) per 100 pg of total RNA. Given that about 70 μg total RNA can be extracted from 35 mg mouse lung tissues, and each mouse lung weighs approximate 0.12 g and contains 110-120 million cells, MIR2911 is estimated about 300~400 copies per cell. Another quantification approach by normalizing to U6 snRNA reveals that copy number of MIR2911 is even higher. Previous report has shown there are in average 400,000 copies of U6 snRNA per cell. Peak level of MIR2911 is about 250-fold less than U6 snRNA. Thus, there are about 1600 copies of MIR2911 in each lung cell. The quantification of MIR2911 is consistent with their previous study that MIR168a were present in mouse liver at approximate 800 copies per cell after feeding mice with fresh rice.
If we see an Ebola outbreak in Australia, one of the best forms of self defence for Australian families may be to isolate themselves using their family home as a refuge.
This may mean having to stock up on various foods that are non-perishable to avoid having to visit supermarkets (with contaminated trolleys).
This may seem extreme, but it needs to form part of an action plan in the event of an Ebola outbreak.
There is quite a high risk that an Ebola outbreak can overwhelm very quickly the resources of a health system, particularly when you consider the number of people that will have to be isolated because of contact with a single nurse on an air flight.
These people will have to be isolated for a minimum period of 42 days and there will simply not be enough isolation spaces to accommodate these people.
I do not think the Australian hospital system is strong enough to withstand an Ebola outbreak, and treatment facilities will very quickly become clogged.
Economic stress will quickly follow as already US air carriers are showing sharp declines in share prices.
It is best to be prepared with some sort of an action plan including one for the pharmacy practice.
Australia has never experienced a pandemic.
In such a crisis would the local pharmacy become the “place to contact” for up to date and reliable information?
How would you get your information out?
I don’t like to be alarmist, but I think Ebola should be taken very seriously.