Thursday, September 25, 2014

Ebola Could Infect 20,000 People by November 
Healthcare workers dispose of bodies dead from Ebola.
TVC News

The World Health Organisation has said an Ebola outbreak in West Africa could 'rumble on' for years in a holding pattern and risks infecting tens of thousands of people in the next few weeks

In an article in the New England Journal of Medicine on Monday, the experts from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Imperial College said that infections will continue climbing exponentially unless patients are isolated, contacts traced and communities enlisted.

The WHO, in an initial roadmap issued on Aug. 28, predicted that the virus could strike 20,000 people in a timeframe of the next nine months. The current death toll is 2,793 out of 5,762 cases, the U.N. agency says.

The latest study, marking six months from March 23 when WHO says it was informed of the Ebola outbreak in southeastern Guinea, reflect projections based on the data from a third wave of the virus in Guinea, Sierra Leone and worst-hit Liberia.

"This is an exponential increase with hundreds, going into thousands of cases per week, and if we don't stop the epidemic very soon, this is going to turn from a disaster into a catastrophy," Dr. Christopher Dye, WHO director of strategy, and co-author of article, told a briefing. Nye said their "best estimate" was "over 20,000 cases by the 2nd of November over three Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Nearly 10,000 of those would be in Liberia, 5,000 in Sierra Leone and nearly 6,000 in Guinea, he said.

Nye said everyone was working very hard to make sure this was not the reality adding:

"It is reassuring in many ways that a disease like Ebola can enter a city of 20 million people, namely Lagos, and we are able to stop transmission, or rather the people of Nigeria are able to stop transmission."

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said last week that under a 1 billion US dollars plan, he will create a special mission to combat the disease and deployed staff to the region.

"It's a large epidemic however, so we're nowhere close to controlling this. And clearly this whole epidemic is going to run on for a few more weeks or months. So, there are three possible views of the future from here if you like and that's what we've put at the bottom of this last slide. If we don't do anything immediately then the exponential growth that has been forecast will continue, so far as we can see, and we'll have not a few thousand cases but probably tens of thousands of cases, as Christl has indicated. If control is completely successful, in the way that we know it can be, then Ebola will disappear from the human population of West Africa and probably return to its animal reservoir," he said, noting that fruit bats were probably the reservoir.

If control efforts are only partially successful, Ebola viral disease in the human population could become "a permanent feature of life in West Africa" Dye said.

Then what has happened in the last few months will continue in for the next few years, Dye said, and "rumble on" becoming a more or less a permanent feature of the human population.

Dye said the pattern of infection and control was difference across all three of the hardest-hit countries.

In the border areas of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia there has been no increase in cases for some weeks now. That's true in Sierra Leone, it's true in Lofa in northern Liberia, and it's true in one of the provinces of Guinea.

This has led the research group to ask whether the virus had reached the start of a stationary pattern in this epidemic.

In two badly affected districts of Sierra Leone, Kenema and Kailahun, close to border areas with Guinea and Liberia, there has been a stationary pattern, he said.

There are other reassuring signs about the efficacy of infection control measures, he said.

No new cases have been recorded in either Nigeria or Senegal in the last three weeks, corresponding to the 21-day incubation period for developing the virulent virus whose symptoms that include fever, vomiting and diarrhoea.

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