Experts disagree on use of experimental ebola treatments

Health experts recently expressed disagreement regarding how to combat the ongoing ebola virus outbreak in West Africa.

International response teams called for the use of experimental drugs or vaccines to stop the spread of the disease, which has infected 844 people and killed 518 so far. Many experts said, however, that using those medications could be disastrous.

Infectious disease expert Jeremy Farrar questioned whether therapies farthest along in the development pipeline would be used in the developed world if a similar outbreak were to occur.

"Imagine if you take a region of Canada, America, Europe and you had 450 people dying of a viral hemorrhagic fever," Farrar said. "It would just be unacceptable - and it's unacceptable in West Africa."

Farrar also cited the emergency use of an experimental, Canadian-made ebola vaccine in 2009 when a German researcher was accidentally pricked with a needle containing ebola.

"We moved heaven and earth to help a German lab technician," Farrar said. "Why is it different because this is West Africa?"

Other experts said that using untested drugs that may not work could erode the trust of local populations in response teams and possibly endanger them. Persistent rumors in West Africa have already emerged, claiming that Western doctors are there to harvest organs for sale.