The circumstances of this year's Ebola outbreak significantly exacerbated the worst-case scenario for the virus, according to Vox.
The World Health Organization (WHO) projects Ebola will infect 20,000 people by November. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns it could infect up to 1.4 million by January if cases continue to increase exponentially and go underreported. Some of the reasons for the dire predictions include:
The failure of containment methods: The traditional method of tracing patient contacts with others can't keep up with the Ebola epidemic, according to Vox. "Consider this: the WHO estimates that every person in this region has at least ten contacts. Liberia already has over 3,000 cases of Ebola. That would be 30,000 potential contacts to follow-up. Imagine, if by the year's end, we see nearly 300,000 cases," the article states.
Short-staffing: Mortality and infection rates among doctors, nurses and hospital staff have reached an unprecedented rate--384 contracted the virus and 186 died as of this week, according to Vox. The WHO says it needs 20 times the current levels of health personnel. Healthcare workers in West Africa aren't used to Ebola outbreaks and lack the resources needed to stay safe, with some walking off the job.
Economic instability: The Ebola outbreak may cost nations such as Sierra Leone and Liberia their encouraging recent economic growth, with the World Bank warning of a "potentially catastrophic blow" last week, Vox reported.
Many providers in the United States are preparing for the worst, with East Texas' Mother Frances Hospital screening all patients in the emergency room's triage area for visits to South African coastal nations where the virus is active, according to KLTV.
In keeping with CDC recommendations, the hospital has about 200 protective suits, gloves and goggles in case clinicians a patient infected with the virus, according to the article. The CDC also created a checklist of precautions providers should take, including frontline worker training and reviews of triage procedures, FierceHealthcare previously reported.