Skip to main content

Death toll passes 1,550 as Ebola outbreak accelerates, officials say

By Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
updated 1:47 PM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • World Health Organization says West Africa Ebola outbreak continues to accelerate
  • There are 1,552 confirmed deaths from the Ebola virus, WHO says
  • New "road map" aims to curb outbreak in six to nine months, stop international spread
  • Road map acknowledges that the eventual death toll in this outbreak could exceed 20,000

(CNN) -- The Ebola outbreak "continues to accelerate" in West Africa and has killed 1,552 people, the World Health Organization said Thursday.

The total number of cases stands at 3,069, with 40% occurring in the past three weeks. "However, most cases are concentrated in only a few localities," the WHO said.

The outbreak, the deadliest ever, has been centered in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, with a handful of cases in Nigeria. The overall fatality rate is 52%, the WHO said, ranging from 42% in Sierra Leone to 66% in Guinea.

The WHO issued a "road map" Thursday that "responds to the urgent need to dramatically scale up the international response" in light of the acceleration of new cases, it said.

Marie Nyan, whose mother died of Ebola, carries her 2-year-old son, Nathaniel Edward, to an ambulance after showing signs of the virus in the Liberian village of Freeman Reserve on Tuesday, September 30. Health officials say the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is the deadliest ever. More than 3,000 people have died, according to the World Health Organization. Marie Nyan, whose mother died of Ebola, carries her 2-year-old son, Nathaniel Edward, to an ambulance after showing signs of the virus in the Liberian village of Freeman Reserve on Tuesday, September 30. Health officials say the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is the deadliest ever. More than 3,000 people have died, according to the World Health Organization.
Ebola outbreak in West Africa
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>
Photos: Ebola outbreak in West Africa Photos: Ebola outbreak in West Africa
How an Ebola outbreak can start, and end
CDC: Worker possibly exposed to Ebola

It aims to stop Ebola transmission in affected countries within six to nine months and prevent its spread internationally.

The road map prioritizes the setting up of treatment centers, community mobilization and safe burials.

It will also try to overcome bottlenecks in vital supplies such as personal protective equipment, disinfectants and body bags.

The road map is based on an assumption that "in many areas of intense transmission the actual number of cases may be 2-4 fold higher than that currently reported," the document states.

It also acknowledges that the total number of cases "could exceed 20,000 over the course of this emergency."

But such a plan is easier stated than carried out, said the aid group Doctors Without Borders, also known as Medecins Sans Frontieres.

The road map should not give a false sense of hope, the group's director of operations, Brice de le Vingne, said in a statement.

"A plan needs to be acted upon," he said. "Huge questions remain about who will implement the elements in the plan."

All of the best medical aid organizations have not had the proper setup to respond at the scale needed to seriously make a dent in the Ebola outbreak, he said.

"As an international public health emergency, states with the capacity to help have the responsibility to mobilize resources to the affected countries, rather than watching from the sidelines with a naive hope that the situation will improve," he said.

Vaccine trials accelerated

An Ebola vaccine being developed by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and GlaxoSmithKline will be fast-tracked for human trials, the international consortium behind the effort said Thursday.

The experimental vaccine could be given to healthy volunteers in Britain, Gambia and Mali as early as September, according to a statement from the consortium, which provided funding.

The vaccine, which does not contain infectious virus material, has showed promise in early tests on primates to protect them from Ebola without significant adverse effects, the statement said.

The human trials will begin as soon as ethical and regulatory approvals are granted.

Nine things to know about the killer disease

'Worse than I'd feared'

Health workers are paying a heavy price as they care for those struck down by the virus.

Are we closer to stopping Ebola?
American leads Ebola treatment center

The WHO said Monday that 120 health care workers have died in the Ebola outbreak, and twice that number have been infected.

Public health experts say several factors are to blame, including a shortage of protective gear and improper use of the gear the workers do have.

"It's even worse than I'd feared," Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Wednesday of the crisis. "Every day this outbreak goes on, it increases the risk for another export to another country.

"The sooner the world comes together to help Liberia and West Africans, the safer we will all be."

Frieden spoke to CNN's Nima Elbagir in Monrovia, Liberia, where fear and anger over the largest Ebola outbreak on record has grown as health officials put up quarantines around some of the capital city's poorest areas.

A separate Ebola outbreak, unrelated to the one in West Africa, was reported Sunday by the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Are myths making the Ebola outbreak worse?

CNN's Miriam Falco, Carol Jordan and Nana Karikari-apau contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 7:54 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
As the worst Ebola outbreak in history touches the United States with the diagnosis of the first case within America, questions arise about how the infectious virus is spread.
updated 12:18 PM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
Here are a few groups that are fighting against this deadly disease and information on how you can make an impact.
updated 12:36 PM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
A doctor in rural Liberia inundated with Ebola patients says he's had good results with a treatment he tried out of sheer desperation: an HIV drug.
updated 2:46 PM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
It can be exhausting nursing a child through the flu, so imagine how 22-year-old Fatu Kekula felt nursing her entire family through Ebola.
updated 9:39 AM EDT, Thu September 25, 2014
Two doctors to take care of Ebola patients, plus the 100 patients in their hospital, plus the rest of the county. That's two doctors for 85,000 people.
updated 10:16 AM EDT, Wed September 24, 2014
Ten days ago, Lusa Khanneh took ill, but not with Ebola. On September 19, she was dead because no hospital would take her.
The burial leader. The hospital gatekeeper. The disease detective. All telling powerful, stories from West Africa.
updated 5:37 PM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
Ebola could become the biggest humanitarian disaster in a generation, writes former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
updated 9:23 AM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
An inability to do complete contact tracing is a major reason that the Ebola outbreak continues to spiral out of control.
updated 9:04 PM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
Some of the nation's top infectious disease experts worry that this deadly virus could mutate and be transmitted just by a cough or a sneeze.
updated 3:51 PM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
At the gravesite in a northern Liberia village, there is no ceremony, no mourning, no family members, and no final goodbyes.
updated 11:18 AM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Hundreds of people are dead as the worst Ebola virus outbreak in history sweeps through West Africa.
updated 11:20 AM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Two American missionaries infected with Ebola were given an experimental drug. Their recoveries seem to offer hope for others.
updated 11:18 AM EDT, Mon August 11, 2014
CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta describes how the Ebola virus can spread and why so many people have become infected.
updated 6:34 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Click through our gallery as we track the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
ADVERTISEMENT