Ebola Cases May Reach 1.4 Million by February


The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is gaining speed with hundreds of new infections each week, but recently the American CDC defined the worst-case scenario – Ebola cases may reach 1.4 million by February 2015.

The current Ebola epidemic, which has affected several western African nations including Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, Nigeria and Senegal, is causing concern among health authorities around the world. The official number of reported infections as of September 23 is 6,574, including 3,091 deaths. This is more than double the number of cases a month ago and health experts are predicting even worse situation in the coming few months. According to the World Health Organization, “many thousands” of infections will occur in the coming weeks, with the agency’s director calling Ebola “the greatest peacetime challenge” the world has ever faced.

But the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are warning that things may actually be much worse than estimated. According to their latest report, by the end of September, there will be 21,000 Ebola cases in Liberia and Sierra Leone. And the other nightmarish prediction is about 1.4 million infections by the end of January next year. CDC experts say that the problem with estimating the real number of cases is the huge under-reporting. In fact, the infected, as well as the already diseased people are probably much more than what official statistics say.

On average, each new Ebola patient infects two healthy people, who in their turn infect another four, and so on. Using this simple fact, experts have done calculations and reached the terrifying conclusion – 1.4 million people may get infected with the deadly disease. And more than half of them will probably die unless actions are taken right now. This, according to the CDC, includes isolating the patients, or at least a sufficient proportion of them. If 70% of the infected people are quarantined in treatment centers or their homes, ending the epidemic will succeed. However, currently, only 18% of the patients in Liberia, for instance, are being isolated.

One of the biggest problems is the lack of adequate infrastructure and the highly insufficient number of health care workers. The response from health authorities and governments from around the world has finally started to take shape – the US announced it would be sending military and medical personnel to the affected regions. On Saturday, the first troops the Navy’s 133rd Mobile Construction Battalion made way through the thigh-high grass near Liberia’s main airport with the help of a bulldozer. More and more soldiers and health workers are arriving to train local nurses, unload and deliver supplies, and of course, to build tents, as well as temporary treatment centers.


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