Ebola Curve Week 41

The Ebola curve may not be getting steeper. From the Ebola Response Roadmap Situation Report, 15 October 2014.

A total of 8997 confirmed, probable, and suspected cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) have been reported in seven affected countries (Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Spain, and the United States of America) up to the end of 12 October. There have been 4493 deaths.

Data for epidemiological week 41 are incomplete, with missing data for 12 October from Liberia. This reflects the challenging nature of data gathering in countries with widespread and intense EVD transmission. These challenges remain particularly acute in Liberia, where there continues to be a mismatch between the relatively low numbers of new cases reported through official clinical surveillance systems on one hand, and reports from laboratory staff and first responders of large numbers of new cases on the other. Efforts are ongoing to reconcile different sources of data, and to rapidly scale-up capacity for epidemiological data gathering throughout each country with widespread and intense transmission.

It is clear, however, that the situation in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone is deteriorating, with widespread and persistent transmission of EVD. An increase in new cases in Guinea is being driven by a spike in confirmed and suspected cases in the capital, Conakry, and the nearby district of Coyah. In Liberia, problems with data gathering make it hard to draw any firm conclusions from recent data.

The good news is that the reported number of total cases are considerably shy of the 9,862 total cases that I calculated last week would indicate that the outbreak was getting out of control. The bad news is that the 8,997 cases reported do not include those that are are missing from Liberia. So, due to the lack of accurate reporting, it’s not safe to assume that the outbreak is already beginning to burn itself out, even though the number of new cases does not appear to be growing at the previous doubling rate any longer.