(HealthDay News) — Infections from the Ebola epidemic in Liberia and Sierra Leone could soar to 1.4 million cases by mid-January unless the global community mounts a rapid response to the West African crisis. This prediction is part of a new report published in the September 23 early-release issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
This projection is based on a new CDC model that assumes people are being infected with Ebola at a geometrically increasing rate, and that there are 2.5 times more cases than are being reported, the agency said in its new report. Ebola cases in West Africa currently have reached an estimated 5,800 infections in people and more than 2,800 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.
The new CDC model specifically focuses on the value of isolating Ebola patients to prevent spread of the deadly virus. The agency found that up to now, total Ebola cases are doubling approximately every 20 days in the two countries because people with the virus are coming into contact with healthy people and infecting them. If seven out of 10 Ebola patients were isolated in their homes or a treatment center, the epidemic in both Liberia and Sierra Leone could be broken by mid-January – a drastically different projection than the worst-case scenario, officials said.
International relief efforts have been increased in recent weeks, but the virus continues to spread. Part of the problem: There aren’t enough hospital beds, health workers or even soap and water in the hardest-hit countries of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, the Associated Press reported.