The Ebola virus is spreading in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and other African countries.
The numbers for the future are very grim.
As of now, about 5,800 cases have been reported, including 2,800 deaths. There will be about 21,000 cases by the end of this month. Some experts think these numbers are greatly underestimated because many people do not want others to know they are sick, and many do not trust their medical systems.
Experts say thousands of cases and deaths may be reported each week very soon. Estimates are that there could be as many as 1.4 million cases by the end of January, 2015.
Many things could change these numbers. First, help is on the way. More medicine and equipment is coming. This means more hospital beds. Getting the right people to help is harder.
The U.S. is sending 3,000 people. It is also sending enough material for 17 hospitals, each with 100 beds.
Doctors think that safe funerals will be a big help. That means not touching the bodies and wearing gloves.
People can also help themselves. Family members can wear protective gear. This will help prevent the disease from spreading. The U.S. is sending 400,000 kits. The kits have gloves and disinfectant.
Getting people involved safely may be a big help. An expert said safe, home-based care would play a big role. This is true especially if people have nowhere else to go.
There was an earlier smallpox epidemic. People were paid to shop so victims did not have to beg or go to the market. It helped stop the spread of the disease. People who survive smallpox or Ebola are immune to the diseases. They can be a big help.
Some fear is that the Ebola virus will not be beaten and that it will become an illness that is always around.
There is a best-case prediction. It suggests that the epidemic could be under control by the end of next January.
Source: The New York Times September 23, 2014