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Ebola Blood Latest Hot Commodity in Black Markets

Update Date: Sep 18, 2014 04:26 PM EDT

As healthcare units choke and a cure eludes West African nations severely hit by the Ebola outbreak, a black market for survivors' blood has merged.

This shocking revelation came in the form of an ominous warning to the international community from WHO. Survivor's blood, known as convalescent serum, contains antibodies that theoretically can be transfused to other patients for fighting the infection. Though no controlled studies exist to show the efficiency of the serum, patients who received transfusions, like American aid worker Rick Sacra, have been cured, CNN reports. The outbreak has so far killed over 2,500 and infected twice as many people, with Liberia being the worst affected.

Concerns over news of illicit trade of blood are soaring as such practices could cause more damage than any benefit. The Wire reported that blood transfusion, when done without following due process, could cause anaphylactic or a severe allergic reaction and resulting death.

"This is something we need to work very closely with the affected countries to stem. The use of convalescent serum has to be done properly," WHO's Director General Margaret Chan said, according to The Wire.

Without mentioning which countries were witnessing such trade, Chan also pointed out risks of infections like HIV even as she said WHO would work to weed out such practices.

The latest find over black market trade of blood has also sent alarm bells ringing among healthcare workers who have been vocal against the international community's lackadaisical response.

The Independent quoted Laurie Garrett, senior fellow for global health at the Council for Foreign Relations, who raised concerns over sale of airdropped food supplies finding their way to the black markets.

In other related developments, British nurse William Pooley, who recovered from Ebola, was flown to Atlanta for a blood transfusion to save a US doctor, who along with Pooley, had contracted the disease in Sierra Leone. 

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