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WHO: Ebola outbreak accelerates, could infect 20,000 people

The WHO called for action on a $490 million plan to halt the spread the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, where it has already killed 1,552 people and 20,000 may be affected.
By Gabrielle Levy Follow @gabbilevy Contact the Author   |   Aug. 28, 2014 at 8:16 AM
GENEVA, Switzerland, Aug. 28 (UPI) -- The Ebola outbreak could infect more than 20,000 people within nine months, and efforts to halt its spread could cost up to half a billion dollars, the World Health Organization said Thursday.

In an assessment released Thursday, the U.N. agency said the epidemic "continues to accelerate" with more than 40 percent of reported cases occurring within just the last three weeks.

The outbreak, which began in February, has affected 3,069 people in four West Africa nations -- Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone -- and 1,552 have already died.

"In many areas of intense transmission the actual number of cases may be four fold higher than currently reported," the assessment said.

On Tuesday, the WHO said more than 120 health workers have been killed by the disease, and announced it was temporarily withdrawing from one of its centers in Sierra Leone after a worker became infected.

The WHO said it was it was launching a $490 million campaign to strengthen laboratory facilities and add staff with expertise in treating the Ebola Virus Disease, and called for the establishment of isolation centers and supervised burials of victims.

There is no vaccine for Ebola, but some experimental treatments have shown some signs of success in treating the often-fatal disease.

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