Friday, October 31, 2014

Ebola Outbreak is Worrying

News Brief by Shudee Wu

Recent studies done by researchers at the School of Public Health and Medicine at Yale University in cooperation with the Liberian government have predicted a worrying rise in the number of Ebola cases in the coming months. The mathematical model developed as a part of the research predicts that the majority of Ebola cases are unreported; perhaps even totaling to over 150,000 as compared to the official statistic of 10,000 cases currently reported. The drastic rise in cases and mortality as predicted by the mathematical model is based on the fact that early response to the outbreak has been poor, and no capable authority, domestically or internationally has presented the region with a comprehensive strategy to combat the epidemic. Such a predictive model has dwarfed even WHO predictions of around 20,000 new cases in November. Notwithstanding conflicts in predicted numbers, the situation on the ground remains worryingly bleak. What the WHO and researchers behind the Yale University predictions do agree on is that the window of opportunity for health officials and authorities to step up efforts to end the epidemic is quickly closing. The situation in the coming weeks may reflect a crisis no longer controllable, especially if efforts are not stepped up. 

Paralleling such drastic reports of the near future of the outbreak, the WHO has suggested that infection rates in Liberia; the nation hardest hit; has slowed down in recent days. Bruce Alyward of the WHO has asserted that he is confident that the health response has recently been gaining the upper hand over the disease, although he also has warned against complacency or the idea that the Ebola epidemic is close to being over. While suggestions of a slowing of infection rates has been a positive, the Ebola epidemic in most other areas has not seen any slowdown, and the warning signs presented by the Yale University study are clear indications of even more comprehensive aid and response efforts by the international community. Until then, no end in the Ebola epidemic in West Africa can be realistically considered to be in the near future.

 “Ebola Cases ‘Slowing in Liberia.’” 2014. BBC News. Acc
essed October 30.

“Ebola: Mapping the Outbreak.” 2014. BBC News. Accessed October 29.

Lewnard, Joseph A, Martial L Ndeffo Mbah, Jorge A Alfaro-Murillo, Frederick L Altice, Luke Bawo, Tolbert G Nyenswah, and Alison P Galvani. 2014. “Dynamics and Control of Ebola Virus Transmission in Montserrado, Liberia: A Mathematical Modelling Analysis.” The Lancet Infectious Diseases, October. doi:10.1016/S1473-3099(14)70995-8. 

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