More cases of the Ebola virus are likely to emerge in the United States by the end of the year as healthcare workers treating the outbreak in West Africa return home, but just how many remains unclear, according to the Associated Press.
New infections by the end of 2014 could range from one or two to a worst-case scenario of 130, according to simulations from several infectious disease specialists.
"I don't think there's going to be a huge outbreak here, no," David Relman, M.D., a professor of infectious disease, microbiology and immunology at Stanford University's medical school, told the AP. "However, as best we can tell right now, it is quite possible that every major city will see at least a handful of cases."
Other experts are similarly using computer simulations to project the likely spread of the virus and analyze its weak points and patterns, according to the Boston Globe. For example, Caroline Buckee of Harvard School of Public Health's epidemiology department created mobility maps with cellphone network data to trace how people move in the areas affected by the virus.
"The first priority has to be clinical, just getting people cared for and treated," Buckee told the Globe. "But there's a whole lot of planning and policy that has to happen: projections for how many beds they'll need and how many gowns to send out, and where to send them."
Meanwhile, in North Carolina, a patient who was transported to Duke University Hospital with a fever after arriving in the U.S. from Liberia tested negative for the virus, according to Forbes. The patient will remain in the hospital pending further testing.
Kaci Hickox, the Maine nurse who defied mandatory 21-day quarantines in both Maine and New Jersey, told the Portland Press Herald that despite a court ruling denying the state of Maine's request to quarantine her, she will avoid going into town during the virus' 21-day incubation period. In spite of the ruling, an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found more than 70 percent of Americans back the mandatory quarantines for healthcare workers returning from Ebola-stricken nations.
Nurses, citing their high-risk position providing direct care to patients, have demanded increased protection from the virus, FierceHealthcare previously reported.