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WHO: Ebola Outbreak could Infect 20,000 Before it is Over

Update Date: Aug 28, 2014 09:20 AM EDT

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced that despite efforts to control the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the number of cases could potentially spike up to 20,000 before the outbreak is over.

"[I]n many areas of intense transmission the actual number of cases may be 2-4 fold higher than that currently reported," the Who stated according to the Washington Post. "The aggregate case load of [Ebola] could exceed 20,000 over the course of this emergency."

Dr. Bruce Aylward, WHO's assistant director-general for emergency operations, added, "That's not saying we expect 20,000. But we have got to have a system in place that we can deal with robust numbers."

The outbreak, which has been maintained in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria, has infected 3,069 people so far with 1,552 casualties. The United Nations (UN) health agency reported that at least 40 percent of the cases were diagnosed within these past three weeks, which suggests that the outbreak is not diminishing.

"This far outstrips any historic Ebola outbreak in numbers. The largest outbreak in the past was about 400 cases," Dr. Aylward, told reporters according to the Huffington Post. "What we are seeing today, in contrast to previous Ebola outbreaks: multiple hotspots within these countries - not a single, remote forested area, the kind of environments that have been tackled in the past. And then not multiple hotspots within one country, but international disease."

In order to prevent the number of cases from reaching 20,000, the WHO has revealed a plan that could stop the transmission of the virus and prevent it from spreading internationally within six to nine months. The plan will cost $489 million and it will require the help of 750 international workers and 12,000 national workers. The agency added that once the outbreak is under control, food and sanitation problems would need to be immediately addressed.

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