If the current high rates of monitoring and hospitalisation continue, the Ebola epidemic in Liberia could be halted by the middle of this year, researchers report.
After including data collected as of Dec. 1, 2014, a computer model projected that the Ebola infections in Liberia could be largely contained by June, according to the study published Jan. 13 in the journal PLoS Biology.
"That's a realistic possibility but not a foregone conclusion. What's needed is to maintain the current level of vigilance and keep pressing forward as hard as we can," project leader John Drake, an associate professor in the School of Ecology at the University of Georgia, said in a journal news release.
The computer model assessed factors such as the location of Ebola infections and treatment, hospital capacity and safe burial practices.
The researchers ran the model for five different hospital capacity scenarios for 2014. In the worst-case scenario - with no increase in hospital beds - the median projection was 130,000 Ebola cases.
In the best-case scenario - with an increase of 1,400 hospital beds - the median projection was 50,000 Ebola cases.
So far, there have been more than 21,000 Ebola cases and more than 8,300 deaths since the outbreak began last year in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, according to the World Health Organization.
The computer model used in this latest study is more complex and therefore more accurate than many other models, and could also be used in different types of outbreaks in the future, according to Drake.
Ebola shows signs of slowing in Liberia
Riddle of the empty beds in Liberia
Ethiopian health workers arrive in Liberia to help fight Ebola
Image: Western Africa from Shutterstock