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Scary new estimates put the number of Ebola cases in West Africa to 21,000 by November, tripling the tally of 5,800 illnesses reported since the deadly virus hit the nations.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said that cases are continuing to increase at a rapid pace, but added that Ebola could sicken people for years to come.

From USA Today:

In recent weeks, health officials worldwide have stepped up efforts to provide aid but the virus is still spreading. There aren’t enough hospital beds, health workers or even soap and water in the hardest-hit West African countries: Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Last week, the U.S. announced it would build more than a dozen medical centers in Liberia and send 3,000 troops to help. Britain and France have also pledged to build treatment centers in Sierra Leone and Guinea and the World Bank and UNICEF have sent more than $1 million worth of supplies to the region.

“We’re beginning to see some signs in the response that gives us hope this increase in cases won’t happen,” said Christopher Dye, WHO’s director of strategy and study co-author, who acknowledged the predictions come with a lot of uncertainties.

“This is a bit like weather forecasting. We can do it a few days in advance, but looking a few weeks or months ahead is very difficult.”

They also calculated the death rate to be about 70 percent among hospitalized patients but noted many Ebola cases were only identified after they died. So far, about 2,800 deaths have been attributed to Ebola. Dye said there was no proof Ebola was more infectious or deadly than in previous outbreaks.

Following the WHO’s predictions, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will release their Ebola estimates on Tuesday.

CDC scientists conclude there may be as many as 21,000 reported and unreported cases in just those two countries as soon as the end of this month, according to a draft version of the report obtained by The Associated Press. They also predict that the two countries could have a staggering 550,000 to 1.4 million cases by late January.

We’ll keep you updated with the latest on the largest Ebola outbreak in history.

SOURCE: USA Today | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty