It was a nightmare scenario: A scientist accidentally pricked her finger with a needle used to inject the deadly Ebola virus into lab mice. Within hours, members of a tightly bound, yet far-flung community of virologists, biologists and others were tensely gathered in a trans-Atlantic telephone conference trying to map out a way to save her life.
Less than 24 hours later, an experimental vaccine — never before tried on humans — was on its way to Germany from a lab in Canada.
And within 48 hours of the March 12 accident, the at-risk scientist, a 45-year-old woman whose identity has not been revealed, was injected with the vaccine.
So far, so good. If the woman is still healthy by Thursday, she can consider herself safe.
Ebola hemorrhagic fever, seen mostly only in Africa, is one of the world's most feared diseases. It begins with flu-like symptoms, followed by bloody diarrhea and vomiting. Days later, some victims begin bleeding through the nose, mouth and eyes. Depending on the strain of virus, it can kill up to 90 percent of victims.
There is no cure.