GENEVA — The best chance for an immediate treatment for Ebola patients in the worst outbreak ever may be readily available, in the blood of survivors.

With experimental drugs in short supply or not ready to be used, global health officials are exploring whether the natural immunity survivors gain after they shed the virus can be shared with others. The idea would be to use their plasma, the part of blood that contains immune system warriors called antibodies, to help fight off the infection.

Some early research suggests using blood from survivors could work. In 1995, during an outbreak in Kikwit in the Democratic Republic of Congo, seven of eight infected people given the therapy survived during an outbreak with an 80 percent fatality rate. While lab studies since then have shown conflicting results, the strategy is worth trying again as the current death toll rises, said David Wood, who leads a World Health Organization team evaluating the approach.

It is “a feasible option,” Wood said in a telephone interview. “We’re consulting with the blood operators who have capability to assist, so that we can get some realistic sense of when this could be available as an option. We’ll have that information pretty soon.”

The WHO reported that as of Aug. 13, 1,145 people have died from Ebola in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria since the outbreak began. The virus carries a terrible toll, causing bleeding from the eyes, ears and nose with most patients dying from multiple organ failure.

About 40 percent of people infected in the current outbreak have beaten the disease, according to the WHO. It’s that minority that researchers are targeting for a treatment that may not require drugmakers to be involved at all. Once the researchers get the blood, they’ll test it for other diseases, including HIV and hepatitis, and then separate out the plasma – which has antibodies that are produced by white blood cells in response to foreign invaders in the body.