Thursday, 4 September 2014

How serious is the Ebola threat really?

The number of people dying in West Africa from the ongoing Ebola outbreak is poised to surpass the total number of people to ever have died from the virus in just 10 days, according to World Health Organization figures.

According to figures released by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday, over 1,900 people have died from the deadly Ebola virus since the current outbreak, which has been traced back to around February.

The outbreak continues to accelerate. More than 40% of the total number of cases have occurred within the past 21 days.

The recorded case and death tolls may "vastly underestimate the magnitude of the outbreak," said WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl

Preliminary results show that cases are still concentrated (62% of all reported cases since the beginning of the outbreak) in the epicentre of the outbreak in Gueckedou (Guinea); Lofa (Liberia), where cases continue to rise; and Kenema and Kailahun (Sierra Leone).

The overall case fatality rate is 52%. It ranges from 42% in Sierra Leone to 66% in Guinea.

South Africans fear for ebola, simply because we realise our health services have collapsed and doubt it would be able to cope with a serious disease outbreak such as ebola.

Now consider the following:
  • Africa has an estimated population of 1.111 billion people on 30.2 million km², while 1,900 have died from ebola, since February 2014;
  • While 1,900 people had died from ebola since February this year, at least 8,000 people have been murdered in South Africa during that same period (based on SA's official murder rate being an average of at least 16,000 each year);
  • 1,900 died from ebola, while malaria killed an estimated 627 000 (with an uncertainty range of 473 000 to 789 000) in 2012 alone. In 2012, 90% of all malaria deaths occurred in the WHO African Region;
  • On 22 August 2014, the United Nations put out an estimate of over 191,000 that had died in the Syrian Civil War (15 March 2011 to 30 April 2014).
  • In its most recent count, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that 2,104 Palestinians and 72 Israelis were killed during the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict, a war that lasted just over 50 days.
Do you still believe ebola is our greatest threat?

References and Further Reading

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