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WHO: Ebola crisis 'vastly' underestimated

(CNN) -- The magnitude of the Ebola crisis in West Africa is "vastly" underestimated, the World Health Organization said this week, as the death toll rose to more than 1,000.

Ebola has infected at least 1,975 people in Nigeria, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone since the outbreak began this year.

Of those, at least 1,069 have died, according to the WHO. It said the number reflects the count as of Monday.

"The outbreak is expected to continue for some time," the WHO said in a statement Thursday. "Staff at the outbreak sites see evidence that the numbers of reported cases and deaths vastly underestimate the magnitude of the outbreak."

It did not provide an estimate of unreported cases.

The United Nations agency said it's teaming up with the affected countries to gather more on-the-ground intelligence for a coordinated response.

"WHO is mapping the outbreak, in great detail, to pinpoint areas of ongoing transmission and locate treatment facilities and supplies," it said.

The new numbers come as health officials are considering the use of experimental treatments and vaccines since no proven treatment or vaccine exists.

Ebola doesn't spread through airborne or waterborne methods. It spreads through contact with organs and bodily fluids such as blood, saliva, urine and other secretions of infected people.

The Ebola virus causes viral hemorrhagic fever and affects multiple organ systems in the body.

Early symptoms include sudden onset of fever, weakness, muscle pain, headaches and a sore throat. They later progress to vomiting, diarrhea, impaired kidney and liver function -- and sometimes internal and external bleeding.

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