The current Ebola outbreak in West Africa that has grown exponentially since May and has already killed over 5,000 people could prove to be more widespread and deadlier than we think, researchers warn.
A new analysis indicates that the outbreak’s fatality rate is over 70 per cent – rather than 50 per cent as previously claimed by the World Health Organisation – and that the total number of affected individuals could exceed 1 million by early next year, researchers said.
As long as the number of infected people rises exponentially, the likelihood of exporting Ebola to other countries does as well, they said.
“The disease itself hasn’t changed, with essentially the same fatality rate and transmissibility as ever. What is different is the number of sickened individuals,” said Dr Allen Hunt, professor at Wright State University in the US.
“If trends continue a few more months, the global community could be forced into a terrible ethical dilemma – either risking the escape of Ebola to other poor, war-torn countries, or sealing off borders to countries in West Africa, with unimaginable humanitarian consequences,” said Hunt.
The study was published in the journal Complexity.