The Ebola outbreak will reach 24 cases diagnosed in the U.S. by the end of the month, according to a new computer model first reported by Insurance Journal.
Researchers tracking the virus concede that it “could be” smaller and limited to “a couple of airline passengers who enter the country already infected without showing symptoms, and the health workers who care for them,” said Alessandro Vespignani, a Northeastern University professor who runs computer simulations of infectious disease outbreaks.
Vespignani added that the two nurses affected in the Dallas Ebola case do not alter the numbers “because they were identified quickly and it’s unlikely they infected other people.”
While that is seemingly good news on the Ebola outbreak front, many Americans are concerned because much of what they’ve been told by the CDC has been questionable, and Vespignani made those comments prior to the latest revelation concerning the second infected Dallas Ebola nurse, Amber Vinson.
Before Thursday, there had been more than 100 people exposed to the virus in Dallas and 132 known to be exposed on the flight Vinson took from Cleveland to Dallas this week.
With news Vinson may have been symptomatic longer than originally thought, that number has grown even higher. In fact, CNN reports that officials are now looking to touch base with as many as 800 people connected to flights she was on between Cleveland and Dallas. More on Vinson’s Cleveland stops in the video below.
Critics point out that the CDC assured citizens the virus would be “stopped in its tracks” if it were to make it to U.S. soil, adding that the American health care system was ready for the Ebola virus.
However, after Thomas Eric Duncan walked in to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital on September 25 infected with the disease only to be sent home, Americans started to question the government’s response, calling for travel restrictions and a more aggressive approach from the White House.
The CDC also raised eyebrows when it gave Vinson the go-ahead to travel by air in spite of the fact she had worked in close proximity with Duncan while he was sick with the virus.
Additionally, the National Nurses United union claimed the CDC’s “protocols” for treating Ebola patients were non-existent, as 85 percent of nurses surveyed had received no training or education on the virus.
As for Vespignani’s computer projections, two dozen may seem like a small number, but that is essentially a 2,400 percent increase in the number of confirmed Ebola cases in the U.S. in a one-month period.
Vespignani admits the projections “only run through October because it’s too difficult to model what will occur if the pace of the outbreak changes in West Africa.”
West Africa is where the Ebola outbreak originated. According to the World Health Organization, there are more than 8,900 people known to have been infected resulting in 4,400 deaths. However, the WHO also notes that reporting could be flawed and the numbers could actually be higher.
If the outbreak isn’t contained, Vespignani admits, his projections would increase considerably.
“If by the end of the year the growth rate hasn’t changed, then the game will be different,” he said. “It will increase for many other countries.”
Do you think the Ebola outbreak computer projections through the end of the month sound accurate? And is the government/healthcare system truly prepared? Sound off in our comments section.
[Image via ShutterStock]