CDC Director Tom Frieden said on Tuesday that 1.4 million people in Liberia and Sierra Leone could potentially be infected with the Ebola virus by the end of January, but tempered his estimate by saying increased global awareness and medical care could stem the spread of the virus.
Frieden based his estimate on a statistical forecast that relied on the number of suspected, probable and confirmed cases in August, which was before the international community took action to improve treatment and isolation of Ebola patients in West Africa.
The CDC's Ebola response statistical model is designed to help emergency planners understand the spread of Ebola and how to respond quickly and efficiently to control the virus. According to the model, delaying action in an outbreak leads to more dangerous spreading of the pathogen.
Frieden said that reversal of this widespread outbreak is still possible with isolation of affected patients. Once the Ebola victims are isolated, the CDC predicts a drastic decline in cases--perhaps as quick a decline as the outbreak itself.