Potential and emerging treatment options for Ebola virus disease

Ann Pharmacother. 2015 Feb;49(2):196-206. doi: 10.1177/1060028014561227. Epub 2014 Nov 20.


Objective: To describe the current Ebola virus epidemic and the potential options for treatment and prevention of Ebola virus disease.

Data sources: A PubMed literature search (1976 through October 20, 2014) was conducted using the search term Ebola.

Study selection and data extraction: Animal and human studies published in English were selected. Studies published within the past 5 years were the primary focus of this review.

Data synthesis: The current Ebola virus epidemic has primarily been contained in West Africa though it has subsequently spread to other areas, including the United States. The first patient in the United States infected with Ebola virus was diagnosed, treated, and expired in Texas. Two nurses caring for this patient also were diagnosed with Ebola virus and have been successfully treated. Treatment options for patients infected with Ebola virus are limited. Supportive therapy is centered on fluid resuscitation, electrolyte imbalance correction, treating complicating infections, and preventing complications of shock. Experimental therapies (ZMapp, brincidofovir, TKM-Ebola, and favipiravir) have been used during this current outbreak. Several medications such as amiodarone, chloroquine, and clomiphene may prevent the transmission of or treat Ebola virus. Different vaccine therapies are also in early-stage development. One of the vaccine strategies using recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus as a delivery vector has demonstrated efficacy when used for preexposure and postexposure prophylaxis.

Conclusion: Ebola virus is highly virulent and fatal, and treatment options are limited. Several experimental and existing therapies may be options for preventing and treating Ebola virus disease.

Keywords: Ebola; Ebola treatment; Ebola vaccine; Ebola virus; antivirals.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Ebolavirus
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / prevention & control
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / therapy*
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / transmission
  • Humans
  • Post-Exposure Prophylaxis
  • Viral Vaccines


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Viral Vaccines