CDC PUBLIC HEALTH IMAGE LIBRARYAs experts continue to grapple with the ongoing Ebola outbreak that’s crippling the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, the World Health Organization (WHO) is expressing concern that the reported numbers of suspected and confirmed cases of infection “vastly underestimate the magnitude of the outbreak.” In a statement issued last week (August 14), the WHO outlined its outbreak-response objectives, noting that “the outbreak is expected to continue for some time.”
During a Friday press conference, Joanne Liu, international president of Doctors Without Borders, guessed it would take officials around six months to contain the outbreak, Reuters reported.
In the meantime, healthcare officials continue to weigh experimental treatment options as biotech firms developing Ebola drugs that have not yet been tested in the clinic are running out of supplies. In an e-mail to ScienceInsider, the WHO said it is considering administering the blood of people who’ve survived Ebola infection to those who fall ill to the virus. “Convalescent serum is high on our list of potential therapies and has been used in other outbreaks,” the organization told Science.
Still, when treating Ebola-infected patients, “there is not a lot of extra time to experiment with unproven therapies,” wrote Armand Sprecher, an epidemiologist and public health specialist at Doctors Without Borders, in New Republic. “We cannot subject our patients to all of the possible things that might work. We have to choose wisely.”