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Nutritional care for patients with Ebola Virus Disease

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Research snapshot1

During the Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak between 2014 and 2016 in West Africa, practitioners faced challenges providing nutritional care for patients in Ebola treatment units (ETUs). A review of the literature on existing practices and research findings on nutritional care in ETUs was undertaken. Authors discovered a wealth of literature on clinical management and supportive care for EVD, but only 24 publications that included nutritional care, which often lacked explicit descriptions of the actual nutritional care provided. Most clinical man¬agement papers delineated supportive care for dehy¬dration and electrolytes through oral rehydration solutions (ORS) or intravenous fluid administration and did not refer to nutrition. The use of total parenteral nutri¬tion (TPN) was only found in high-resource settings. One study concluded that vitamin A supplementation resulted in lower mortality in ETUs. For paediatric patients, some studies recommended the priori-tisation of therapeutic milks and ready-to-use therapeutic foods over local foods in the acute phase of the illness. Examples of feeding methods used in infants under six months of age to reduce mother-to-infant transmission were also described. One descriptive qualitative study of key informants analysed community perceptions of the nutrition-related response to the EVD outbreak in Guinea. A consistent theme across informants in this study was the lack of emphasis on nutrition by health professionals and community members. 

Most studies reviewed were conducted before the 2014 World Health Organization/UNICEF/World Food Programme guidance was issued, which restrict¬ed the authors’ ability to compare recommendations with actual practices. Overall, the nutritional care for EVD patients was poorly described; therefore the optimal composition and implementation of nutritional care remain unknown. The authors recommend that researchers and practitioners share specific and practical details of their experiences in providing nutritional support within ETUs to expand the knowledge base and ultimately improve nutritional care for an increasingly prevalent patient population, including in the current EVD outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

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Endnotes

1Mija Ververs, Magi Gabra. (2020) Nutritional Care for Patients with Ebola Virus Disease. Emerging Infectious Diseases. Vol. 26, No. 1, 21-25. https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid

 

 

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Nutritional care for patients with Ebola Virus Disease. Field Exchange 62, April 2020. p50. www.ennonline.net/fex/62/nutritionalcareebolavirusdisease

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