MONROVIA, Liberia — There is evidence the numbers of dead and sickened by Ebola in West Africa may “vastly underestimate the magnitude of the outbreak,” the World Health Organization said Thursday. The U.N. health agency said it was prepared for the crisis to continue for months.
With more than 1,060 deaths and 1,975 sickened, the Ebola outbreak is already the deadliest ever.
Liberian officials faced a difficult choice Thursday: deciding which handful of Ebola patients will receive an experimental drug that could prove life-saving, ineffective or even harmful.
ZMapp, the untested Ebola drug, arrived in the West African country late Wednesday. A day later, no one had yet received the treatment, which officials said would go to three people.
The outbreak, which was first identified in March in Guinea and since spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, has overwhelmed the already strained health systems in West Africa and raised questions about whether authorities are doing enough to respond.
There is no licensed treatment for Ebola, a virus transmitted by contact with bodily fluids, so doctors have turned to the limited supply of untested drugs to treat some cases.