CDC director: ‘Ebola will get worse before it gets better’

BY Sarah McHaney  August 27, 2014 at 1:03 PM EDT
MONROVIA, LIBERIA - AUGUST 15: A sick woman lies in a classroom now used as Ebola isolation ward on August 15, 2014 in Monrovia, Liberia. People suspected of contracting the Ebola virus are being brought by Liberian health workers to the center, a closed primary school originally built by USAID, while larger facililities are being constructed to house the surging number of patients. The Ebola epidemic has killed more than 1,000 people in four West African countries. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

MONROVIA, LIBERIA – AUGUST 15: A sick woman lies in a classroom now used as Ebola isolation ward on August 15, 2014 in Monrovia, Liberia. People suspected of contracting the Ebola virus are being brought by Liberian health workers to the center, a closed primary school originally built by USAID, while larger facililities are being constructed to house the surging number of patients. The Ebola epidemic has killed more than 1,000 people in four West African countries. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

The end is, unfortunately, not in sight for West African countries stricken with Ebola, according to Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Dr. Frieden, who is currently on a three country tour in West Africa, told NPR that the situation is “overwhelming.”

“Unfortunately, we are definitely not at the peak. It’s going to get worse before it gets better,” he said. “The real question is how much worse will it get? How many more people will be infected and how much more risk to the world will there be?”


Dr. Frieden claims there are far more cases than reported because there are not enough health workers to maintain new cases/records.

The disease has killed over half of the known 2,600 cases including 120 health workers according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Earlier Wednesday, Dr. Sahr Rogers died in Sierra Leone, becoming the third top doctor to die from Ebola. The WHO evacuated its first staff member to contract the disease to Germany for treatment. An infected British health worker was flown back to London earlier this week and is still being treated.

“The international surge of health workers is extremely important and if something happens, if health workers get infected and it scares off other international health workers from coming, we will be in dire straits,” said Christy Feig, director of WHO communications.

Despite the influx of international aid and campaigns by local governments to spread awareness, this case of Ebola is proving almost impossible to control.

“Lots of hard work is happening. Lots of good things are happening,” Frieden said at a meeting attended by Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Monday. “But the virus still has the upper hand.”

People are no longer dying only of Ebola in infected regions, but of preventable diseases as well. John Moore is covering the outbreak for Getty Images and described the extended devastation during his interview with NewsHour last week.

“If you are sick from some other disease, or if you are having a baby, or if you are doing the things we do as humans, you sometimes need medical attention. And without these facilities (hospitals) open, people are sick and dying of things that they shouldn’t be sick and dying of,” he told NewsHour’s Jeffrey Brown.

Dr. Frieden emphasized on NPR that the top priority alongside controlling Ebola is getting basic medical care restored in the infected communities.