A top doctor in Liberia has said that a large swath of Ebola cases are going largely unreported.
The doctor, who works as a senior physician in a leading medical clinic in Liberia, told CBS News that there are likely many more than the 1,700+ individuals reported to have the Ebola virus by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The doctor said that Africa is having a hard time containing the virus because of the continent’s densely populated cities. He believed that the epicenter of Ebola is in Liberia’s capital city, Monrovia, which has an estimated population of one million.
The doctor believed people have been afraid to report on family members’ cases of Ebola for fear that it might inhibit their cultural traditions, which sometimes involve making contact with the bodies of family members before burying them underground.
WHO officials said Wednesday that there have now been 932 deaths due to the Ebola virus. The number does not take into account recent fatalities reported from Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. The vast majority of deaths from Ebola have come from Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea.
Two Ebola patients were recently flown into Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, to be treated for the virus. The patients were given the experimental Ebola drug ZMapp. Their doctors said it is too early to confirm or deny whether the drug has been working. A CDC official said it was unlikely that the same experimental drug would be utilized as a treatment for West African patients. “The product is still in an experimental stage, and the manufacturer reports that there is a very limited supply, so it cannot be purchased and is not available for general use,” said the CDC representative.