There’s a roughly 25 percent chance Ebola will be detected in the United Kingdom– and as much as an 18 percent chance it will turn up in the U.S. – by the end of September, the analysis of global mobility and epidemic patterns shows. The new paper includes the top 16 countries where Ebola is most likely to spread.
Though concerning, a spread to Western nations is not the biggest threat. At most, there would be a cluster of a few cases imported to the U.S., probably through air travel.
“In the U.S., where one has good infection control practices, even if a case were to get in, it’s likely the infection could be contained,” said Dr. Betz Halloran, a biostatistician and member in the Fred Hutch Public Health Sciences and Vaccine and Infectious Disease divisions.
The chief concern is that the rising cases are rapidly outpacing international efforts to contain the spread, said Dr. Alessandro Vespignani, the Northeastern University physics professor who developed the Global Epidemic and Mobility Model to assess outbreaks.
“We are at a crucial point,” Vespiginani said. “If the number of cases increases and we are not able to start taming the epidemic, then it will be too late. And then it requires an effort that will be impossible to bring on the ground.”