CDC: Ebola could infect 1.4 million in Liberia and Sierra Leone by end of January

The Ebola epidemic in West Africa, already ghastly, could get worse by orders of magnitude, killing hundreds of thousands of people and embedding itself in the human population for years to come, according to two worst-case scenarios from scientists studying the historic outbreak.

The virus could potentially infect 1.4 million people in Liberia and Sierra Leone by the end of January, according to a statistical forecast by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published Tuesday. That number came just hours after a report in the New England Journal of Medicine warned that the epidemic might never be fully controlled and that the virus could become endemic, crippling civic life in the affected countries and presenting an ongoing threat of spreading elsewhere.

Read it all.

Update: The elves also recommend the latest post on Ebola at Lent & Beyond, with a graph showing the cumulative number of cases of Ebola in West Africa. There are also suggested prayer points, and links to donate to several charities on the frontlines in the Ebola struggle.


Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Guinea, Health & Medicine, Liberia, Nigeria, Politics in General, Sierra Leone, Theology

4 comments on “CDC: Ebola could infect 1.4 million in Liberia and Sierra Leone by end of January

  1. Karen B. says:

    An article in the Guardian today got my attention. Pay attention to the last paragraph of the section I’m quoting below. Here’s the excerpt:

    [blockquote]David Miliband, the former British foreign secretary, warned that the Ebola outbreak means that years of social and economic progress in Sierra Leone was at risk, as he visited the country’s capital Freetown.

    Miliband, who is now the head of the International Rescue Committee which has about 500 staff working in Liberia and Sierra Leone to combat Ebola, told the Guardian that this was a crucial moment and that treatment alone would not stop the death toll.

    He was in Freetown to thank and support the 330 staff there, he said, and to advocate for the people. “After 10 years of pretty sustained progress, all that progress is now at stake,” he told the Guardian.

    “One of the things that has become starkly clear to me in my visit is that there’s no grey area here between controlling the disease on the one hand and widespread disaster on the other. We’re at an absolute tipping point where either the disease is contained to the low tens of thousands, or it becomes an epidemic of a very serious kind.”[/blockquote]
    From here:

    Did you catch what he said? CONTAINMENT = “low tens of thousands of cases” compared with the alternative which is “an epidemic of a very serious kind” – i.e. WORSE than tens of thousands of cases!! i.e. even the “BEST CASE SCENARIO” is now unspeakably awful.

    My heart just breaks for those suffering such an unimaginable plague in Sierra Leone and Liberia, and to a slightly lesser extent in Guinea. It’s hard to find the words to keep praying, yet we must. Please give too if you can.

  2. Katherine says:

    I was very much afraid that the reported improvement in Liberian numbers was not real, and it seems this is true.

    The suggestion to give to Samaritan’s Purse or MSF (Doctors Without Borders) is a very good one. And also to pray! — for a vaccine, for effective treatments, and for God’s grace.

  3. Karen B. says:

    Hi Katherine,
    yes, it is sad about the news from Liberia that the decline is not real, except in Lofa district. I too was certainly skeptical, but then there was a story by Robyn Dixon of the LA Times who was on the ground in Liberia who talked about some signs that cases were slowing… so, I hoped it might be real. Alas.

    There does seem to be some true good news in Guinea in terms of the area of the country affected. A number of districts have not reported any new cases for the past 21 days or longer… So, even while there is a spike in Conakry and one or two of the hot zone districts, the situation in Guinea is much much more manageable, though it’s sobering that with the “head start” there and the greater availability of resources compared with the case load, the virus still has been contained there. The graph I posted a L&B shows how cases in Guinea had leveled off for awhile before they started climbing again. Probably it was re-introduction of Ebola from Liberia and Sierra Leone which worsened things in Guinea again when they HAD been close to containment there.

    All this just goes to show what a terribly complex, and terribly tragic situation this is.

  4. Katherine says:

    Karen B., when you posted the apparently encouraging statistics from Liberia, at the same time I read an article about the government’s sending hazmat crews to collect ALL dead bodies, whatever the cause of death, for removal and cremation. This is absolutely the right thing to do, since African funeral practices are probably a large factor in the spread of the disease. However, the article also said crews were meeting with resistance, and that people were perhaps just not reporting deaths and handling funerals privately despite the infection risk. There is an aspect of ignorance and superstition which is not helping at all.