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Computer model suggests 5,000 Ebola deaths by September 24; hundreds of thousands soon after


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(NaturalNews) Based on its current rate of spread, the West African Ebola outbreak is expected to surge in the coming weeks, according to a new study published in the journal PLOS Currents: Outbreaks. Researchers from Northeastern University in Boston have projected that as many as 10,000 cases of Ebola will be confirmed by September 24, with about 5,000 of these resulting in death.

Using the Global Epidemic and Mobility Model as a benchmark, Marcelo F. C. Gomes and his colleagues estimated the likelihood of disease spread with 3,362 subpopulations in 220 countries. This included looking at daily airline passenger traffic worldwide as well as disease spread within hospitals, at funerals and within entire communities.

With a reproductive number (Re) of 1 representing the tipping point at which disease spreads -- anything higher than 1 means that the outbreak will continue to spread, while anything less means that it is being contained -- the team estimates the current Ebola outbreak to be between 1.5 and 2.0. In the short term, this means continued and increasing spread throughout West Africa.

In the long term, international spread is also a possibility, with the strong likelihood of exponential growth if the situation is not contained sooner rather than later. As far as Liberia is concerned, where a bulk of the current outbreak is occurring, the figures don't look very promising -- the number of dead over the past several months could more than double in just a few weeks.

"The numbers are really scary," stated Alessandro Vespignani, a physicist at Northeastern and author of the study. "We all hope to see this NOT happening."

Hundreds of thousands could catch Ebola by December 1

Even with bolstered international aid, Vespignani and his team say this is not enough to prevent an exponential spike in Ebola infections. If things continue as they currently are, more than 100,000 people -- just in Liberia -- will have Ebola by December 1. And beyond that date, the number will continue to skyrocket at an exponential rate.

"If the epidemic in Liberia were to continue in this way until the 1st of December, the cumulative number of cases would exceed 100,000," said Christian Althaus, a mathematical epidemiologist from the University of Bern who is also building his own Ebola models, as quoted by Science magazine.

Up to 75 percent of actual Ebola cases go unreported, say expert

Because of a lack of data and difficulties knowing exactly how many people are currently infected with Ebola, scientists admit that their data are mostly speculative. But it is conservatively speculative, if anything, as up to three-quarters of actual Ebola cases likely go unreported. This means that many more people than are currently being reported already have Ebola, and the actual number on September 24 will be far higher.

Then there is the question of how quarantines are affecting the spread of Ebola. With some fearing the repercussions of coming forward, many infected individuals are likely staying out of the limelight, potentially spreading the disease to their friends, families and communities with authorities none the wiser.

"Quarantines and curfews tend to instill fear and distrust towards the whole of the outbreak response including health structures," stated a representative from Doctors Without Borders, one of the primary aid groups on the ground in West Africa, to Science.

To review the new study in its entirety, including plotted graphs of the expected rise in infections, visit:

Learn more about natural defenses against viral outbreaks at BioDefense.com.

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