My latest update regarding the history of the Ebola epidemic can be found here:
December 17, 2014:
The exponential growth rate of the Ebola epidemic continued for about two months after my original blog post in August, 2014. The exponential trend was broken in mid-October, 2014, thanks to global relief efforts and effective public health programs in the affected countries. Updates to my original charts can be found here:
There is no clear end-point to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak in West Africa, now involves about 9000 reported cases, with the likelihood of an equal number of unreported cases (10/17 update). Like ripples from a stone thrown into the water, the epidemic has the potential to infect heavily populated areas of west Africa, to spread across porous borders by people fleeing the epidemic, and to jump from large cities to other large cities. The following figure shows a timeline extrapolated from the exponential growth of the disease, and marked by points representing populations at risk. Africa is impoverished and lacks the resources to maintain a stringent defense against the epidemic. There are no firebreaks, and the world will be able to do very little to stop a general pandemic if the case numbers continue to grow well into the coming year.
Reports from the World Health Organization (WHO) are increasingly bleak. The WHO October 8th situation report states:
Obsolete as of November 7, 2014, see latest post
In the October 29 report, WHO presents revised figures that add about 3700 cases to the previous total. These cases were recognized through study of patient databases, and occurred throughout the epidemic period, and not only since October 22. The additional cases return the cumulative case number to my original exponential extrapolation, first presented on August 26th.
It is uncertain whether the apparent flattening of the cumulative cases, observed through the month of October, is real or the result of under-reporting. Case reporting is increasingly late, and WHO cites data missing for a number of dates.
I have now seen two anecdotal reports that give a more optimistic appraisal of the situation in Monrovia, indicating fewer patients are reporting to Ebola clinics, and fewer bodies are being collected from the city outside the clinics. Authorities disagree on whether the drop in patients shows a real decline in the epidemic, or avoidance of the clinics.