A new study has showed that the death toll from Ebola could top 90,000 by December in Montserrado Africa.
Alison Galvani, senior author and Professor of Epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health, USA, said that their predictions highlight the rapidly closing window of opportunity for controlling the outbreak, and averting a catastrophic toll of new Ebola cases and deaths in the coming months.
The researchers used mathematical modelling to evaluate the ability of control interventions (ie, new treatment centres to isolate and treat Ebola patients, case finding through contact tracing, and protective kits to help household-based isolation of infected individuals) to control the Ebola outbreak in Montserrado during various time periods.
They estimated that the reproductive number (R0, the average number of infections caused by a single infected individual) in Montserrado is 2.49 and predicted that the addition of 4800 treatment beds, alongside increasing case detection fivefold in November, could prevent 77312 cases by 15 December, 2014. Additionally, a complementary strategy of allocating protective kits could bring the number of deaths averted up to 97940 cases in total.
According to Galvani, while the window of opportunity for timely control of the Ebola outbreak has passed, the risk of catastrophic devastation both in West Africa and beyond has only just begun. While vaccines to prevent Ebola remain unavailable, our study urges a rapid and immediate scaling-up of all currently available non-pharmaceutical intervention strategies to minimize the occurrence of new cases and deaths.
The study was published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal.