Cases of Ebola in West Africa are continuing to rise exponentially, with Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone together experiencing a 49% increase in cases in just the last three weeks.
New data released Tuesday by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that there are now a total of 4,269 cases in the three countries, including 2,288 deaths. Liberia alone has experienced a 68% increase in cases in the last three weeks. Localized clusters of Ebola have also been emerging in Nigeria and Senegal, where authorities have reported a combined total of 24 cases and eight deaths.
On Monday, the WHO released data on the troubling number of cases in Liberia, citing concerns that families riding in taxis or motorbikes to hospitals are spreading disease that way. Fourteen of Liberia’s 15 counties now have confirmed cases of the disease, and so far 152 health care workers have been infected, with 79 dying from the disease. The organization says it expects thousands of new cases in the next three weeks, and has called for all involved parties to at a minimum, triple their efforts.
Also on Tuesday, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced that it is helping the African Union mobilize an additional 100 African health workers to help fight the outbreak with $10 million of funding. So far the U.S. has spent a reported $100 million responding to the outbreak.
The WHO has said that Liberia in particular needs better ideas for containing the disease. "Conventional Ebola control interventions are not having an adequate impact in Liberia, though they appear to be working elsewhere in areas of limited transmission, most notably in Nigeria, Senegal, and the Democratic Republic of Congo," the WHO wrote in a recent update.
Dr. Kent Brantly, one of the American Ebola survivors who was infected in Liberia, agrees that regular methods aren't working there. In an essay for TIME, Brantly wrote: "People are fearful of isolation units because “that is where you go to die."...Perhaps we need to find a way to provide safe home care that protects the caregivers."
Meanwhile in the U.S., Emory University Hospital received a third Ebola patient to its isolation unit on Tuesday morning. This is the fourth patient to be evacuated from West Africa to be treated with the disease in the U.S.