Ebola death toll in West Africa could become 'unpalatable,' expert says

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Ebola death toll in West Africa could become 'unpalatable,' expert says
People who survived the Ebola virus sit at Hastings treatment center in Hastings, on the outskirts of Freetown, the only run exclusively by locals, during a ceremony where 63 survivors at the centre were discharged, on November 11, 2014. Some 1,130 people in the impoverished west African country have died from the virus out of 4,862 cases in the current outbreak, declared a state of emergency on July 31. Sierra Leone said on November 11 it was holding a journalist in a notorious prison because he had accused the government of provoking the kind of unrest seen in Burkina Faso through mismanagement of the Ebola crisis. Liberia has announced a dramatic drop in new Ebola infections as Mali prepared to lift quarantine restrictions on dozens of people put at risk of exposure to the deadly virus. AFP PHOTO/ FRANCISCO LEONG (Photo credit should read FRANCISCO LEONG/AFP/Getty Images)
A health worker wearing a personal protective equipment works on November 11, 2014 in the red zone of the Hastings treatment center in Hastings, outside Freetown, the only run exclusively by locals. Some 1,130 people in the impoverished west African country have died from the virus out of 4,862 cases in the current outbreak, declared a state of emergency on July 31. Sierra Leone said on November 11 it was holding a journalist in a notorious prison because he had accused the government of provoking the kind of unrest seen in Burkina Faso through mismanagement of the Ebola crisis. Liberia has announced a dramatic drop in new Ebola infections as Mali prepared to lift quarantine restrictions on dozens of people put at risk of exposure to the deadly virus. AFP PHOTO/ FRANCISCO LEONG (Photo credit should read FRANCISCO LEONG/AFP/Getty Images)
Health workers stand by an Ebola treatment unit being preventively set to host potential Ebola patients at the University Hospital of Yopougon in Abidjan on October 25, 2014. Hundreds of thousands of Ebola vaccine doses could be rolled out to West Africa by mid-2015, the World Health Organization said on October 24, after a new case of the virus was reported in New York and a two-year-old girl died in the first case in Mali. AFP PHOTO / ISSOUF SANOGO (Photo credit should read ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images)
A mother carries her child as they wait to see a doctor for a routine visit at the Kuntorloh Community Health Centre in the outskirts of Freetown on November 14, 2014. Ebola-hit Sierra Leone faces social and economic disaster as gains made since the country's ruinous civil war are wiped out by the epidemic, according to a major study. Damage to most sectors of the economy will see growth shrink from 20.1 percent last year to just five percent in 2014, the finance ministry and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) found. AFP PHOTO/ FRANCISCO LEONG (Photo credit should read FRANCISCO LEONG/AFP/Getty Images)
A mother carries her child as she is briefed by a nurse during a routine visit at the Mabella Community Health Centre in Freetown on November 14, 2014. Ebola-hit Sierra Leone faces social and economic disaster as gains made since the country's ruinous civil war are wiped out by the epidemic, according to a major study. Damage to most sectors of the economy will see growth shrink from 20.1 percent last year to just five percent in 2014, the finance ministry and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) found. AFP PHOTO/ FRANCISCO LEONG (Photo credit should read FRANCISCO LEONG/AFP/Getty Images)
A mother breastfeeds her child as they wait to see a doctor for a routine visit at the Kuntorloh Community Health Centre in the outskirts of Freetown on November 14, 2014. Ebola-hit Sierra Leone faces social and economic disaster as gains made since the country's ruinous civil war are wiped out by the epidemic, according to a major study. Damage to most sectors of the economy will see growth shrink from 20.1 percent last year to just five percent in 2014, the finance ministry and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) found. AFP PHOTO/ FRANCISCO LEONG (Photo credit should read FRANCISCO LEONG/AFP/Getty Images)
A baby is prepared for a vaccination during a routine doctor's visit at the Kuntorloh Community Health Centre in the outskirts of Freetown on November 14, 2014. Ebola-hit Sierra Leone faces social and economic disaster as gains made since the country's ruinous civil war are wiped out by the epidemic, according to a major study. Damage to most sectors of the economy will see growth shrink from 20.1 percent last year to just five percent in 2014, the finance ministry and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) found. AFP PHOTO/ FRANCISCO LEONG (Photo credit should read FRANCISCO LEONG/AFP/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 14: (CHINA OUT) Medical team sets out for the Republic of Sierra Leone to help them fight against Ebola virus on November 14, 2014 in Beijing, China. Ebola virus spreads in west African nations, America and Spanish and Chinese governments sent medical teams to help their people protect against the Ebola virus. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)
Health workers walk on November 13, 2014, on Kerry Town treatment centre, on the outskirts of Freetown, one of several instalations built by the British government in Sierra Leone on a effort to fight the outbreak of Ebola. AFP PHOTO/ FRANCISCO LEONG (Photo credit should read FRANCISCO LEONG/AFP/Getty Images)
A virologist works on November 13, 2014, in a testing lab in Kerry Town treatment center, on the ouskirts of Freetown. This is one of several labs built by the British government in Sierra Leone on a effort to fight the outbreak of ebola virus. Official figures show Ebola has claimed more than 5,100 lives across west Africa -- 2,836 of them in hardest-hit Liberia -- with the real death toll thought to be up to three times higher. AFP PHOTO/ FRANCISCO LEONG (Photo credit should read FRANCISCO LEONG/AFP/Getty Images)
A virologist works on November 13, 2014, in a testing lab in Kerry Town treatment centre, on the ouskirts of Freetown. This is one of several labs built by the British government in Sierra Leone in an effort to fight the outbreak of Ebola virus. AFP PHOTO/ FRANCISCO LEONG (Photo credit should read FRANCISCO LEONG/AFP/Getty Images)
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By RYAN GORMAN

Growing concerns about a possible Ebola outbreak in Mali have at least one expert concerned many more people will die from the deadly disease than previously thought.

More than 5,100 people have died in West Africa from this year's outbreak across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Four have died from Ebola in recent weeks in Mali and authorities are scrambling to track down another 250 individuals for monitoring.

A further 14,413 are known to be infected, and the death toll among them is reaching 70 percent, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). This is the largest Ebola outbreak in history.

Those deaths are believed have been people infected by a Guinean imam who died in Mali of the disease, according to the WHO. But another outbreak in the country is raising fears that infections may be more widespread.

Many experts, including Jennifer Nuzzo, a leading infectious disease expert with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, sees the spread of Ebola to Mali as a potential "game changer" but is hopeful the outbreak can be quickly contained.

"I'd like to think it's not community-wide," Nuzzo told AOL News, "but it's not surprising to find more cases.

"Hopefully they can put a ring around them and extinguish the disease," she added.

Nuzzo contends there is reason to worry, but expressed hopes that efforts to contain the disease in Mali are as effective as in Nigeria.

A recent infection in Lagos, a teeming city of about six million people, was isolated and cured almost as quickly as a New York doctor who became in infected after returning from treating Ebola-stricken patients in Guinea.

"Everybody was really worried about Nigeria," said Nuzzo.

Experts have since instead been focusing their attention on Sierra Leone, where infections appeared to slow a bit before picking up again.

"Sierra Leone is doing far, far worse than it had in a long time," said Nuzzo.

The rising number of infections, combined with those already infected in Guinea and Liberia, mean it is going to be a long road to recovery, according to Nuzzo, who believes the death count could easily rise higher than previous prediction.

"I think its not going to be palatable," she said.

Previous Ebola outbreaks have been confined mostly to villages, but this one has hopped the borders of six countries, and Mali shares a 500-mile border with Guinea.

"The fact we're now seeing cases Mali, and Sierra Leone seems to be heating up, shows that we are in this for the long haul," said Nuzzo.

The desperation of people looking for a cure has led them down many a dark path, including the use of arsenic and snake venom, according to the Daily Mail.

Doctors Ortrud Lindemann, from Germany, and Richard Hiltner, from California, set off for Liberia recently to prove the two toxins would prove effective as homeopathic Ebola cures, according to the British newspaper.

Nuzzo slammed the idea, saying that there is virtually no way either could be effective treatments for the lethal disease.

"I don't know of any reason why those two things would work on a virus like Ebola," said Nuzzo. "It doesn't seem really feasible."

Both arsenic and snake venom are toxic to humans, even at small amounts of exposure, and U.S. authorities have worked for decades remove arsenic, which occurs naturally, from the nation's water supply.

"You're talking about arsenic ... a known poison, its pretty remarkable," said Nuzzo. "If the Ebola doesn't kill you, the arsenic will."

The only way to bring the deadly disease under control, according to Nuzzo, is to bring an Ebola vaccine to reality.

Clinical trials of a potential vaccine and other treatments still ongoing, it is not known how soon they can be approved by health officials.

The best way to at least slow the infection rate until then, says Nuzzo, is to not demonize with onerous mandatory quarantines the doctors returning from Africa after stints volunteering to help fight the disease.

"I worry that, what we are doing, it sounds like we're going to make it harder to stop the outbreak."

World News Update:  New Ebola Vaccine Clinical Trials and More



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Ebola death toll in West Africa could become 'unpalatable,' expert says
DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 15: Emergency vehicles escort an ambulance on the tarmac at Love Field Airport October 15, 2014. The ambulance had reportedly delivered Amber Vinson, a health care worker, to an air ambulance. According to reports, Vinson, had contracted the Ebola virus and had taken a commercial Frontier Airlines flight from Cleveland, Ohio to Dallas, Texas, a day before become symptomatic. (Photo by Stewart F. House/Getty Images)
Amber Joy Vinson, 2nd Dallas nurse with Ebola, traveled to Ohio to visit family, plan wedding http://t.co/AfQQEcnh4h http://t.co/YP5oI0j9Iv
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 17: Paige Victoria, 23, of Cleveland, Ohio, and Jeff Hulbert of Annapolis, Maryland, (obscured in back) hold up signs in front of the White House on October 17, 2014 in Washington, D.C. Hulbert is protesting the entry of Ebola into the country through air travel. 'There should be a temporary travel ban on visitors from infected regions until medical infrastructure can get up to speed,' said Hulbert. (Photo by Allison Shelley/Getty Images)
Jeff Hulbert from Annapolis, Maryland, dressed in a protective suit and mask holds a poster demanding for a halt of all flights from West Africa,as he protests outside the White House in Washington, DC on October 16, 2014. Top US health officials faced a grilling Thursday by lawmakers infuriated over the nation's fumbling response to the Ebola outbreak, as the Obama administration scrambles to contain the disease's spread. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) director Thomas Frieden has become the most prominent target of the criticism, which has mounted as it emerged that a second Texas health care worker infected with the deadly disease was allowed to board a commercial flight despite reporting a low-grade fever. AFP PHOTO/MLADEN ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Twilette Miller, a nurse arriving from Dayton, Ohio, and concerned about Ebola reports, wears a precautionary surgical mask at Dulles International Airport October 16, 2014, in Sterling, Virginia, outside Washington, DC. Some schools in Ohio and Texas closed Thursday amid fears that students or staff had been exposed to a nurse who had Ebola infection during an airline flight. The US Centers for Disease Control has reached out to 132 people who were on the same October 13 flight as Amber Vinson, but said there was an extremely low risk that anyone was infected. AFP PHOTO/Paul J. Richards (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 15: An air ambulance carrying Amber Vinson takes off from Love Field Airport October 15, 2014. According to reports, Vinson, a healthcare worker, had contracted the Ebola virus and had taken a commercial Frontier Airlines flight from Cleveland, Ohio to Dallas, Texas, a day before become symptomatic. (Photo by Stewart F. House/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 16: White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest takes questions from the media during his daily briefing in the Brady Briefing Room, October 16, 2014 in Washington, DC. Secretary Earnest spoke about the two health care workers who were infected with the Ebola virus in Texas. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
This 2010 photo provided by tcu360.com, the yearbook of Texas Christian University, shows Nina Pham, 26, who became the first person to contract the disease within the United States. Records show that Pham and other health care workers wore protective gear, including gowns, gloves, masks and face shields and sometimes full-body suits when caring for Thomas Eric Duncan. (AP Photo/Courtesy of tcu360.com)

Nina Pham (Instagram)

DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 12: A man dressed in protective hazmat clothing walks towards an apartment where a second person diagnosed with the Ebola virus resides on October 12, 2014 in Dallas, Texas. A female nurse working at Texas Heath Presbyterian Hospital, the same facility that treated Thomas Eric Duncan, has tested positive for the virus. (Photo by Mike Stone/Getty Images)
Twilette Miller, a nurse arriving from Dayton, Ohio, and concerned about Ebola reports, wears a precautionary surgical mask at Dulles International Airport October 16, 2014, in Sterling, Virginia, outside Washington, DC. Some schools in Ohio and Texas closed Thursday amid fears that students or staff had been exposed to a nurse who had Ebola infection during an airline flight. The US Centers for Disease Control has reached out to 132 people who were on the same October 13 flight as Amber Vinson, but said there was an extremely low risk that anyone was infected. AFP PHOTO/Paul J. Richards (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Passengers at Frontier gate at Hopkins now wearing masks http://t.co/kBn0hhZhQZ
This is Amber Vinson, the #ebola patient that flew from #CLE to #Texas after visiting #Akron http://t.co/wBoZM9Hvr1 http://t.co/RGSvcA6l3Q
Family confirms, #Dallas nurse Nina Pham is 2nd patient with #Ebola... #PrayersforNina http://t.co/dTXi5SPZVW http://t.co/u4slPTn6US
#NinaPham identified as Dallas nurse with #Ebola http://t.co/3p3AFlxp42 http://t.co/L4Ho8zSHuM
DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 12: Workers with hazmat company CG Environmental Cleaning Guys prepare a tarp to block the view of media as they prepare to enter an apartment where a second person diagnosed with the Ebola virus resides on October 12, 2014 in Dallas, Texas. A female nurse working at Texas Heath Presbyterian Hospital, the same facility that treated Thomas Eric Duncan, has tested positive for the virus. (Photo by Mike Stone/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 12: A man dressed in protective hazmat clothing leaves after treating the front porch and sidewalk of an apartment where a second person diagnosed with the Ebola virus resides on October 12, 2014 in Dallas, Texas. A female nurse working at Texas Heath Presbyterian Hospital, the same facility that treated Thomas Eric Duncan, has tested positive for the virus. (Photo by Mike Stone/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 12: No trespassing signs and warning tape mark the apartment where a second person diagnosed with the Ebola virus resides on October 12, 2014 in Dallas, Texas. A female nurse working at Texas Heath Presbyterian Hospital, the same facility that treated Thomas Eric Duncan, has tested positive for the virus. (Photo by Mike Stone/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 12: Dallas police setup a barrier after a hazmat vehicle entered the alley behind the apartment where a second person diagnosed with the Ebola virus resides on October 12, 2014 in Dallas, Texas. A female nurse working at Texas Heath Presbyterian Hospital, the same facility that treated Thomas Eric Duncan, has tested positive for the virus. (Photo by Mike Stone/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 12: A man dressed in protective hazmat clothing walks towards an apartment where a second person diagnosed with the Ebola virus resides on October 12, 2014 in Dallas, Texas. A female nurse working at Texas Heath Presbyterian Hospital, the same facility that treated Thomas Eric Duncan, has tested positive for the virus. (Photo by Mike Stone/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 12: A Dallas police officer sets up a barrier after a hazmat vehicle entered the alley behind the apartment where a second person diagnosed with the Ebola virus resides on October 12, 2014 in Dallas, Texas. A female nurse working at Texas Heath Presbyterian Hospital, the same facility that treated Thomas Eric Duncan, has tested positive for the virus. (Photo by Mike Stone/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 12: A man dressed in protective hazmat clothing treats the front porch of an apartment where a second person diagnosed with the Ebola virus resides on October 12, 2014 in Dallas, Texas. A female nurse working at Texas Heath Presbyterian Hospital, the same facility that treated Thomas Eric Duncan, has tested positive for the virus. (Photo by Mike Stone/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 12: Two workers with hazmat company CG Environmental Cleaning Guys stand in the alley behind an apartment where a second person diagnosed with the Ebola virus resides on October 12, 2014 in Dallas, Texas. A female nurse working at Texas Heath Presbyterian Hospital, the same facility that treated Thomas Eric Duncan, has tested positive for the virus. (Photo by Mike Stone/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 12: A man dressed in protective hazmat clothing treats the sidewalk in front of an apartment where a second person diagnosed with the Ebola virus resides on October 12, 2014 in Dallas, Texas. A female nurse working at Texas Heath Presbyterian Hospital, the same facility that treated Thomas Eric Duncan, has tested positive for the virus. (Photo by Mike Stone/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 12: A worker with hazmat company CG Environmental Cleaning Guys hangs a tarp blocking view of the apartment where a second person diagnosed with the Ebola virus resides on October 12, 2014 in Dallas, Texas. A female nurse working at Texas Heath Presbyterian Hospital, the same facility that treated Thomas Eric Duncan, has tested positive for the virus. (Photo by Mike Stone/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 12: Brad Smith with the hazmat company CG Environmental Cleaning Guys talks with the media outside of an apartment where a second person diagnosed with the Ebola virus resides on October 12, 2014 in Dallas, Texas. A female nurse working at Texas Heath Presbyterian Hospital, the same facility that treated Thomas Eric Duncan, has tested positive for the virus. (Photo by Mike Stone/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 12: G.C. Williford, Battalion Chief for the Dallas Fire Department, talks with fire department personell outside an apartment where a second person diagnosed with the Ebola virus resides on October 12, 2014 in Dallas, Texas. A female nurse working at Texas Heath Presbyterian Hospital, the same facility that treated Thomas Eric Duncan, has tested positive for the virus. (Photo by Mike Stone/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 12: Police officers stand near a barrel containing waste material (L) that was removed from the apartment where a second person diagnosed with the Ebola virus resides on October 12, 2014 in Dallas, Texas. A female nurse working at Texas Heath Presbyterian Hospital, the same facility that treated Thomas Eric Duncan, has tested positive for the virus. (Photo by Mike Stone/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 12: Police officers stand outside an apartment where a second person diagnosed with the Ebola virus resides on October 12, 2014 in Dallas, Texas. A female nurse working at Texas Heath Presbyterian Hospital, the same facility that treated Thomas Eric Duncan, has tested positive for the virus. (Photo by Mike Stone/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 12: Brad Smith with the hazmat company CG Environmental Cleaning Guys talks with the media outside of an apartment where a second person diagnosed with the Ebola virus resides on October 12, 2014 in Dallas, Texas. A female nurse working at Texas Heath Presbyterian Hospital, the same facility that treated Thomas Eric Duncan, has tested positive for the virus. (Photo by Mike Stone/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 12: A Dallas police officer responds to media questions as hazmat company CG Environmental Cleaning Guys begins setup at the apartment where a second person diagnosed with the Ebola virus resides on October 12, 2014 in Dallas, Texas. A female nurse working at Texas Heath Presbyterian Hospital, the same facility that treated Thomas Eric Duncan, has tested positive for the virus. (Photo by Mike Stone/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 12: Brad Smith (C) with hazmat company CG Environmental Cleaning Guys directs an employee outside of the apartment where a second person diagnosed with the Ebola virus resides on October 12, 2014 in Dallas, Texas. A female nurse working at Texas Heath Presbyterian Hospital, the same facility that treated Thomas Eric Duncan, has tested positive for the virus. (Photo by Mike Stone/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 12: Volunteers pass out flyers for the Dallas County Health and Human Services department near an apartment where a second person diagnosed with the Ebola virus resides on October 12, 2014 in Dallas, Texas. A female nurse working at Texas Heath Presbyterian Hospital, the same facility that treated Thomas Eric Duncan, has tested positive for the virus. (Photo by Mike Stone/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 12: A barrel containing waste material that was removed from the apartment where a second person diagnosed with the Ebola virus resides sits on the lawn on October 12, 2014 in Dallas, Texas. A female nurse working at Texas Heath Presbyterian Hospital, the same facility that treated Thomas Eric Duncan, has tested positive for the virus. (Photo by Mike Stone/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 12: G.C. Williford, Battalion Chief for the Dallas Fire Department, enters an apartment where a second person has been diagnosed with the Ebola virus on October 12, 2014 in Dallas, Texas. A female nurse working at Texas Heath Presbyterian Hospital, the same facility that treated Thomas Eric Duncan, has tested positive for the virus. (Photo by Mike Stone/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 12: A barrel containing waste material that was removed from the apartment where a second person diagnosed with the Ebola virus resides stis on the lawn on October 12, 2014 in Dallas, Texas. A female nurse working at Texas Heath Presbyterian Hospital, the same facility that treated Thomas Eric Duncan, has tested positive for the virus. (Photo by Mike Stone/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 12: A woman passes out flyers for the Dallas County Health and Human Services department near an apartment where a second person diagnosed with the Ebola virus resides on October 12, 2014 in Dallas, Texas. A female nurse working at Texas Heath Presbyterian Hospital, the same facility that treated Thomas Eric Duncan, has tested positive for the virus. (Photo by Mike Stone/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 12: Volunteers pass out flyers for the Dallas County Health and Human Services department near an apartment where a second person diagnosed with the Ebola virus resides on October 12, 2014 in Dallas, Texas. A female nurse working at Texas Heath Presbyterian Hospital, the same facility that treated Thomas Eric Duncan, has tested positive for the virus. (Photo by Mike Stone/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 12: A barrel labeled with biohazardous waste sits in front of an apartment where a second person has diagnosed with the Ebola virus resides on October 12, 2014 in Dallas, Texas. A female nurse working at Texas Heath Presbyterian Hospital, the same facility that treated Thomas Eric Duncan, has tested positive for the virus. (Photo by Mike Stone/Getty Images)
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Mali reports 2 new Ebola deaths in capital
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