Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Interesting Accounting of Ebola Cases on WHO Website

Last week, we saw a report of 13,700 cumulative cases of Ebola. This report included an adjustment from Liberia, which over the prior several updates failed to report their new cases and deaths. Surprisingly, the next follow up report saw a decrease in total number of cases from Liberia, but now included over 1,000 new cases from Sierra Leone. Friday went by with no further news, as did Monday, and then I noticed several hopeful accounts, claiming of this epidemic slowing down in Liberia.  The rationale for decrease in Liberian transmission seemed dubious as it referenced new facilities being built with international help, while such beds are yet to be filled and the number of health care staff in the worst off countries has actually decreased., Other amazing interventions mentioned include texting...
Seriously, the typical Liberian is sitting somewhere in the middle of a forest, reading health alerts through their smart phone. So I would be a fool to take such reporting seriously.

Today, a new account of cases was published on the WHO website, which again notes a decrease in total number of recorded cases; here both Liberia and Sierra Leone decreased their cumulative case numbers, and miraculously their number of dead also decreased.  I hope this doesn't mean that hundreds of undead are roaming West Africa.

So what does one make of these reports. It is possible that prior reports overestimated the number sick and dead, however this would also contradict prior WHO assertions that official numbers are under-reporting those affected by a factor of 2-3. There is a strong incentive to not report Ebola in the community, as this will adversely affect their ability to do commerce.  Bottom line.., we don't really know what is going on in West Africa and at what stage this Ebola epidemic is currently.  We do know that the situation is pretty chaotic, and that is good reason to remain very concerned.

3 comments:

creakypavillion said...

What do you think?

Ex-Dissident said...

I think the numbers are being under-reported. Why this is happening is unclear, but it could be because there is a local incentive for a community to not report their illness, or perhaps there is a lack of people on the ground to do the tallying, or both. I also expect this epidemic to eventually burn itself out, but this won't happen until the number of potential new people to infect decreases substantially. This could happen quickly with effective quarantine policies that are adhered to. I haven't read about any such efforts. All in all, I still think we are en route for an explosion of cases sometime next year and I think it will be here in force sometime in the spring. Maybe our elected officials will become serious about preventing transmission from medical tourists leaving West Africa by then. I wouldn't bet on anyone associated with Obama to become serious anytime soon.

creakypavillion said...

I was asking about the article @link.