(HealthDay News) — The deadly Ebola outbreak hitting four West African nations could eventually infect more than 20,000 people, the World Health Organization announced Thursday.
Already the largest Ebola outbreak ever, the viral infection has produced 3,069 cases so far and killed 1,552 people in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone. Nearly 40% of the total number of reported cases have occurred in the past three weeks, the health agency said.
In response to the crisis, the U.N. health agency unveiled a battle plan Thursday that calls for stopping Ebola transmissions within 6–9 months, while “rapidly managing the consequences of any further international spread,” the WHO said in a news release. The plan calls for spending $489 million over the next nine months and enlisting 750 international workers and 12,000 national workers, the Associated Press reported.
Also Thursday, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) said it would begin testing an experimental Ebola vaccine in humans next week. It will be tested in 20 healthy adults in Maryland to see if it’s safe and able to produce an appropriate immune system response. The vaccine was developed by the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and drug maker GlaxoSmithKline. It will also be tested on healthy volunteers in Great Britain and the West African nations of Gambia and Mali, the NIH said.