The Ebola Virus Disease outbreak hit a milestone of sorts, I guess it could be described as macabre, but the number of cases in the three West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone has eclipsed the 20,000 mark according to the latest World Health Organization (WHO) data published today.
The total case tally is now 20,081 with 7,842 fatalities, although this number is expected to be artificially low due to undercounting problems in the region.
The good news is the number of cases are dramatically lower than earlier predictions by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in September when they said there could be nearly 1.4 million cases by next month.
While the Ebola outbreak keeps chugging along, a topic I discussed on the radio show with Dr Tara Smith in early November concerning diseases being neglected due to resources going to Ebola is being addressed in some news reports today.
The Associated Press reports that efforts to control the mosquito borne parasite, malaria are being hampered by the enormity of the Ebola effort.
Guinea, the first epicenter of the largest Ebola outbreak in history, has seen a 40% decrease in malaria reports. Good news you say?
Not so fast says Dr. Bernard Nahlen, deputy director of the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative. He said the decrease is likely because people are too scared to go to health facilities and are not getting treated for malaria.
“It would be a major failure on the part of everybody involved to have a lot of people die from malaria in the midst of the Ebola epidemic,” he said in a telephone interview. “I would be surprised if there were not an increase in unnecessary malaria deaths in the midst of all this, and a lot of those will be young children.”