Skip to main content

WHO: Evidence shows Ebola crisis 'vastly' underestimated

updated 8:12 PM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Ebola has killed at least 1,145 people in Nigeria, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone
  • "The outbreak is expected to continue," the World Health Organization says
  • It says it has seen evidence of unreported cases

(CNN) -- The magnitude of the Ebola crisis in West Africa is "vastly" underestimated, the World Health Organization warned this week, as the death toll steadily climbed.

Ebola has infected at least 2,127 people in Nigeria, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone since the outbreak began this year.

Of the victims, 1,145 have died, according to the WHO. It said the number reflects the count as of Wednesday.

"The outbreak is expected to continue for some time," the WHO said in a statement Thursday. "Staff at the outbreak sites see evidence that the numbers of reported cases and deaths vastly underestimate the magnitude of the outbreak."

Canada offers up to 1,000 Ebola vaccines
Husband: Ebola victim 'getting stronger'
How Ebola got out of control
Ebola claimed many lives in this family
Dr. Gupta: Why we shouldn't fear Ebola

Though the United Nations agency did not provide an estimate of unreported cases, it said it's teaming up with the affected countries to gather more intelligence from the ground.

"WHO is mapping the outbreak, in great detail, to pinpoint areas of ongoing transmission and locate treatment facilities and supplies," the statement said.

It's also working with other agencies, including the World Food Program, to feed about 1 million people quarantined in villages in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

"Our team are not in direct contact with Ebola quarantine and treatment centers," said Fabienne Pompey, spokeswoman for World Food Program. "We deliver food to the medical staff and they are in charge of the distribution."

As experts scramble to contain the outbreak, health officials are considering the use of experimental treatments and vaccines, since no proven ones exist.

Ebola spreads through contact with organs and bodily fluids such as blood, saliva, urine and other secretions of infected people.

The deadly virus causes viral hemorrhagic fever, which affects multiple organ systems.

Early symptoms include sudden onset of fever, weakness, muscle pain, headaches and a sore throat. They later progress to vomiting, diarrhea, impaired kidney and liver function, and sometimes internal and external bleeding.

Two Americans are undergoing treatment for Ebola, which they contracted while helping patients in Liberia. They were transferred to an isolation unit at an Atlanta hospital and appear to be recovering.

In a separate case, a Spanish priest who contracted the disease in Liberia died this week.

Ebola: 9 things you need to know

Inside the Ebola outbreak with the CDC

CNN's Brent Swails contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
The largest Ebola epidemic in history began with the simple act of caring for a child. Soon, it spread from the remote village in Guinea.
updated 9:27 AM EST, Tue November 4, 2014
The worst-ever outbreak of Ebola virus is stretching the medical capacities of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
updated 4:11 PM EDT, Tue October 28, 2014
Before the deaths soared into the thousands, before the outbreak triggered global fears, Ebola struck a toddler named Emile Ouamouno.
updated 7:51 AM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
What happens when you get Ebola? CNN's Miguel Marquez explains.
updated 3:52 PM EDT, Sat October 25, 2014
Health experts are fast-tracking tests for various vaccines, and hope to have millions of experimental doses by next year.
updated 7:54 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Ebola is a scary infectious disease but the first thing you should know is that it's not very contagious. Here is how it spreads.
updated 12:46 PM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
These questions and answers will give you the latest information on the deadly virus and what's being done to stop its spread.
updated 11:32 AM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Up to three Ebola-infected travelers might board an international flight each month in West Africa, according to a new study, and potentially spread the deadly virus.
updated 9:45 PM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
There's no cure for Ebola. So why have some patients walked away healthy while others in the West died?
updated 6:25 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
A doctor at a government-run Ebola treatment center in Monrovia is too busy to mince words.
updated 7:33 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Two children orphaned by Ebola play in the empty corner of a Liberian orphanage. Their parents died last month, and none of the extended family is willing to claim them.
updated 12:55 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Public health experts are asking whether the CDC is partly to blame for problems with Ebola in the U.S. Here are 5 things they say the CDC is getting wrong.
updated 3:59 PM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
The lack of solid protocol on what to do with Ebola victims' pets and what little is known about the risk has caused one dog to be euthanized and another quarantined.
updated 1:58 AM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Rosie Tomkins takes a look at the protective suits that are worn by some Ebola medical workers in Africa.
updated 8:52 AM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
What's the protocol for health care workers if they suspect a patient has the virus
updated 2:08 PM EST, Wed December 10, 2014
Click through our gallery as we track the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
A look at CNN's complete coverage on the Ebola crisis.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT