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Ebola spread to skyrocket along with deaths from other diseases

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
New model predicts more than one million Ebola infections by end of January

New predictions suggest Ebola could infect more than 1.4 million in West Africa by the end of January. Lack of public health infrastructure could mean more deaths from other illnesses in the region as well.


A new model predicts there could be 1.4 million people infected with Ebola by the end of January if health efforts to contain the virus fail.

Researchers predict hundreds of thousands could become infected in Liberia alone by the end of the year. The toll of Ebola is also expected to have an effect on people with chronic health conditions, malaria and childbirth that is yet to be seen.

Ebola model shows infection rates could skyrocket

Epidemiologists with the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute, who modeled the Ebola spread as part of a National Institutes of Health-sponsored project called Midas, short for Models of Infectious Disease Agent Study expected the Ebola outbreak in Africa to be under control in nine months before the statistics were released.

But based on the current model 20,000 people could become infected in just one month. The researchers say rates of infection could skyrocket, based on how fast Ebola is currently spreading.

So far there is no medical cure for Ebola but vaccines are being explored. For now the researchers say the only interventions that can help are supportive care and personal protection for health care workers

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The model continues to change as information about the current epidemic is analyzed. The newest forecast for Ebola is than 1.4 million people in West Africa could become infected with the virus.

Ebola isn't the only thing killing people in West Africa

A recent Reuters report highlights other diseases that are claiming the lives of West Africans other than Ebola, including malaria, Deaths from the virus could increase four-fold because of the toll that is being taken on the health infrastructure in countries hardest hit by Ebola.

Health clinics are being overwhelmed. Women giving birth, mental health patients and people with heart disease and diabetes are expected to suffer higher mortality rates from lack of available resources for care.

Deaths among children from diarrhea an pneumonia are also expected to increase Jimmy Whitworth, the Wellcome Trust's head of population health told Reuters.

The WHO's director-general Margaret Chan notes Ebola has spread out of control from lack of public health infrastructures.

Image credit:
Wikimedia Commons

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