WHO Predicts Alarming Ebola Case Numbers

Ebola cases in West Africa still on the rise as officials work to find a fix

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) As the Ebola outbreak continues to spread in West Africa, health officials are calling for increased measures to fight it. World Health Organization (WHO) estimates say that, if the global response to the crisis isn't ramped up, the outbreak could worsen.

Update (10/14/2014): As part of the ongoing US effort in the fight against Ebola, another 100 US soldiers arrived in Liberia Tuesday. According to NBC News, the new troops bring the total to 565 US troops currently in West Africa. The soldiers have set up three mobile labs and have tested more than 1,000 samples for the virus. The projected total of US soldiers to be sent to West Africa to fight the Ebola outbreak is 4,000. 

In a news conference Tuesday, WHO officials called for an increased global response to the Ebola crisis.

They said that the current response isn't enough to stem the virus's spread, and numbers of new cases could spike in the next two months.

According to the Associated Press (AP), Dr. Bruce Aylward, WHO assistant director-general, said West Africa could face as many as 10,000 Ebola cases a week within the next two months. But that's if the global response isn't stepped up.

"We need ... at least a 20-fold surge in assistance — mobile laboratories, vehicles, helicopters, protective equipment, trained medical personnel, and medevac capacities," said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in an Oct. 9 statement.

Noting that the virus is far ahead of the global response, UN officials said it is not too late to beat the Ebola outbreak.

"We are late, but it is not too late to fight and win this battle," said Anthony Banbury, head of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response, in an Oct. 10 statement. "We are moving resources to where it is needed most. We will support national leadership and ownership. We shall play the role of 'crisis manager' not just 'response coordinator.' We shall fill gaps and support that which needs backstopping.”

Current numbers of new cases per week hover at around 1,000, the AP reports. WHO officials say the outbreak could be reversed if 70 percent of Ebola patients were placed in isolation and 70 percent of the dead were buried correctly.

Dr. Aylward also said the death rate in the current outbreak has jumped from around 50 percent to 70 percent.

Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia are the three most affected countries in the outbreak. While nearby West African nations face a high risk of the virus spreading across their borders, there's no evidence that countries are hiding cases.

"This is not a virus that's easy to suppress or hide," Dr. Aylward said in the news conference. "I don't expect this virus to just go anywhere. There is exit screening in place and sick people won't be moving."

Dr. Aylward noted that the virus has not spread much internationally. Governments in countries outside West Africa that have seen Ebola cases are closely monitoring patients and people who may have been exposed.

Nina Pham, a nurse in Dallas, TX who recently contracted Ebola virus disease while treating an infected Liberian man, is in stable condition.

Ebola virus disease is caused by the Ebola virus. This often fatal disease is marked by high fever, headache, nausea, vomiting and unexplained bleeding. It has claimed the lives of nearly 4,500 people in the current outbreak and infected nearly 9,000 total, WHO reports.

Review Date: 
October 14, 2014
Last Updated:
October 20, 2014