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Can The Ebola Epidemic Be Stopped This Year?

Although the Ebola epidemic is still raging in west Africa, US and European buzz about the disease spiked briefly and then all but disappeared, according to Google search data published in Vox's in-depth report. Liberia's situation is the most promising, compared to the other two countries involved, writes Julia Belluz at Vox. Experts say that Guinea has "no discernible upward or downward trend" of cases, Sierra Leone is "the most challenging front," and Liberia is the country closest to having the outbreak under control. Ebola eradication is probably impossible, because the disease seems to simmer in wildlife populations, including bats, making occasional jumps into humans. Until recently, the outbreaks only killed dozens or hundreds of people before fizzling out, sometimes without another recorded case for years. The current outbreak, on the other hand, has been going on for over a year, with an official death toll of, at this writing, over 8,000. Now, a new model of the epidemic suggests that it may be under control, at least in Liberia, by summer of this year. I spoke with John Drake, whose team at the University of Georgia studies the dynamics of groups of living things, from wildlife populations to disease epidemics. They have a paper out in PLOS Biology today describing their prediction. Details via Gizmodo.

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