Ebola Could Infect Over 1.4 Million People by End of January 2015

First Posted: Sep 29, 2014 07:27 AM EDT

The outbreak of Ebola - which claimed more than 1,000 lives in West Africa could infect over 1.4 million by the end of January, a latest report reveals.

A latest statistical forecast released by the U.S. Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention reveals that the Ebola epidemic could claim hundreds to thousands of lives and infect over 1.4 million people by the end of the January. This report supports the higher projections released by scientists who had modeled the spread of the virus as part of the National Institutes for Health-Sponsored project called Midas.

Before the release of the report, it was expected that the outbreak in West Africa would be under control in nine months as there were just 20,000 total cases. But this latest model showed that 20,000 people could be infected in just one single month. The predictions could again change if the health efforts by the public proves to be effective.

"If the disease keeps spreading as it has been we estimate there could be hundreds of thousands of cases by the end of the year in Liberia alone," said Bryan Lewis, a computational epidemiologist with the Network Dynamics and Simulation Science Laboratory at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute.

The finding is based on the combination of models to predict outcomes of the epidemic. These agent-based models are evolving as more data is entered into them to gain an accurate forecast.

"The work with Ebola is not an isolated event," said Christopher Barrett, the executive director of the institute. "This research is part of a decades-long effort largely funded by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency to build a global synthetic population that will allow us to ask questions about our world and ourselves that we have never been able to ask before, and to use those answers to prevent or quickly intervene during a crisis."

Ebola virus is named after a river in Democratic Republic of the Congo, Africa. It is one of the two members of a family of the RNA virus called Filoviridae.

The effort is also supported by the federal Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

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