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Spanish priest is Ebola victim; pressure mounts for use of experimental treatment

Catholic World News - August 12, 2014

A Spanish priest has died of the Ebola virus, despite receiving a controversial experimental treatment.

Father Miguel Pajares in Madrid on August 12. The missionary priest had contracted the deadly disease while working in a hospital in Liberia.

Father Pajares had been airlifted from Liberia to Spain, where he was treated with ZMapp, an experimental drug that has not yet been cleared for general use. Spanish medical authorities allowed the use of the drug in his case because no other effective remedy for Ebola has been found.

Because ZMapp had not been adequately tested, medical experts are uncertain whether the drug will be successful in combating Ebola infection, and whether it may have serious side effects. However the World Health Organization (WHO) has now approved the limited use of the experimental drug, in light of the soaring death rate from Ebola infections.

For the moment, the WHO has authorized the use of ZMapp only for a few patients: adult doctors who have been infected with the Ebola virus, and been deemed capable of giving informed consent for the experimental treatment. As the death toll from Ebola climbs over 1,000, the UN agency is under heavy public pressure to allow more widespread use of the drug.

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