The Ebola epidemic is rapidly accelerating in Sierra Leone and Liberia, and the total number of infected could climb as high as 1.4 million by January, according to a new CDC report. CNN has the story:
The number of Ebola cases in Liberia and Sierra Leone could rise to between 550,000 and 1.4 million by January if there are no “additional interventions or changes in community behavior,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report Tuesday. The estimate was derived from a new forecasting tool developed by the CDC.The range of estimated cases to come—from 550,000 to 1.4 million—is wide because officials say they think the current case count is highly under-reported. The official death toll from Ebola in West Africa has climbed to more than 2,800 in six months, with 5,800 cases confirmed as of Monday, the World Health Organization said.
A study published by WHO experts in the New England Journal of Medicine warns that the death rate of the epidemic is 71 percent. It includes these terrifying words: “Ebola has reached the point where it could establish itself as an endemic infection because of a highly inadequate and late global response.”What makes this epidemic so much worse than others? According to this study, it isn’t the virulence of the strain, but rather “the combination of dysfunctional health systems, international indifference, high population mobility, local customs, densely populated capitals, and lack of trust in authorities after years of armed conflict.”For decades people have been worrying about one form of modern plague or another. Yet despite all the warnings, Western-funded development efforts would flit merrily from fad to fad, while the gaping holes in the most basic public health systems failed to capture the imaginations of diletannte donors. Now we have the potential for a Big One, and thanks to the factors that the WHO researchers cite, this outbreak certainly has the potential to spread to Europe and the U.S.