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Fear Factor
CDC: Ebola Cases Could Top One Million by January

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.

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  • Arkeygeezer

    What makes this epidemic worse than all others? Human indifference to the seriousness of the situation and dysfunctional health systems? In other words this epidemic is our own fault and human beings are to blame.

    This sounds like a variation of the climate change argument. I wonder whose going to make money off of this one?

    • Corlyss

      I’m waiting for the parade of blame shifters to denounce the west and western colonialism for creating the conditions in which ebola thrives. Isn’t it about time for that to appear?

      • Xenophon

        Africa creates conditions that allow ebola to thrive. Colonialism creates conditions that affect the ability of those countries to mount an effective response. Ebola isn’t super dangerous, assuming a functional, modern health care system.

        • Corlyss

          “Africa creates conditions that allow ebola to thrive.”
          Right. Staggering ignorance and primitivism and contentment with their “way of life.”
          “Colonialism creates conditions that affect the ability of those countries to mount an effective response.”
          You must be in the grip of an ideological delusion. Do you seriously think that if the colonial powers were still in Africa that they would not have superior modern medical systems in place by now? They would have been building them in the 60 years since they left. The people would be a lot safer had the colonial powers remained to carry out their custodial role. As it is, the natives are bereft of any processes to deal with the fate their ignorance dictates.

  • Kieselguhr Kid

    Uninformed fearmongering. I work at a BSL3/4 facility; some of my close colleagues work with Ebola. Yes, it’s a problem. Yes, we should respond better to conditions on the ground for humanitarian reasons. But Ebola as we know it does not in fact have much potential to be some kind of worldwide plague. I suppose it has that distant theoretical potential, but so does everything else.

    • rheddles

      All true. But ebola does have the potential to devastate sub-Sahara Africa and perhaps beyond. And the world will stand by. Especially now that we are embroiled in a shooting war to distract us from these events in a continent we really don’t care about. Sort of bio-Rwanda. Perhaps the Chinese can help.

  • FriendlyGoat

    We must hope that the world is not as inept about responding to Ebola as we have been about replacing large segments of fossil fuel energy. Both of these situations can produce dire results——(or not)—–but one of them will let us know how dire it is much sooner than the other.

  • Corlyss

    I’ve been watching these “humanitarian catastrophes” in sub-Sahara Africa since the Sahel in the 80s. Frankly I’m weary of the never ending drumbeat for the world to rush in and save these stone-age people from their own primitivism. Will there never dawn a day when they can take care of their own sorry a*ss*es?

    • Xenophon

      Sir, do you have a soul? or perhaps just an ounce of compassion. Or failing that, some knowledge of the deep effects that centuries of colonialism has had upon the ‘Dark Continent’

      • Corlyss

        I have a historical sense. I’ll tell you what the deep effects of colonialism on the ‘Dark Continent’ were: those stone age dwellers never had it so good as the did under colonialism. They got modernization, introduction to futures undreamed of as they sat around their campfires and practiced their shamanism, education, sanitation, paved roads, better trade, a wider world, and that’s just what I can think of on the spur of the moment. The idea that colonialism was a tragedy is balderdash, popular BS. Since the western nations abandoned their colonies in Africa, the natives have continued to sink into tyranny, warfare, flirtations with dead-end socialism, poverty, famine, one ecological or disease calamity after another. Come to think of it, the Saharan regions ain’t doin’ that much better unless they maintained close ties with their former colonial master. The whole continent is an absolute waste of good land.

        • Xenophon

          wow. I hope all the disdain and bile you swallow in your ignorance leads to a long and prosperous life.

          • Corlyss

            LOL I hope you will find a way to come to terms with the realities of history rather than the pleasing fictions you appear to believe.

          • Xenophon

            My history isn’t pleasing, but it is supported by facts

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