Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New model predicts Ebola epidemic in Liberia could be ended by June

14.01.2015

The Ebola epidemic in Liberia could likely be eliminated by June if the current high rate of hospitalization and vigilance can be maintained, according to a new model developed by ecologists at the University of Georgia and Pennsylvania State University.

The model includes such factors as the location of infection and treatment, the development of hospital capacity and the adoption of safe burial practices and is "probably the first to include all those elements," said John Drake, an associate professor in the UGA Odum School of Ecology who led the project. The study appears in the open access journal PLOS Biology Jan. 13.


John Drake, an associate professor in the University of Georgia Odum School of Ecology, led a project to develop a new model that determined the Ebola epidemic in Liberia could likely be eliminated by June if the current high rate of hospitalization and vigilance can be maintained.

Credit: Andrew Davis Tucker/University of Georgia

Drake said that the UGA model should be useful to public health officials as they continue to combat the Ebola epidemic because it offers both general insights and realistic forecasts, something few models are able to do.

During the fall of 2014, the authors ran the model for five different hospital capacity scenarios. For the worst case, with no further increase in hospital beds, the median projection was for 130,000 total cases through the end of 2014; for the best case--an increase of 1,400 more beds, for roughly 1,700 total or an 85 percent hospitalization rate--the median projection was 50,000 cases.

After the authors updated it with more recent information collected through Dec. 1, the model projected that, if an 85 percent hospitalization rate can be achieved, the epidemic should be largely contained by June.

"That's a realistic possibility but not a foregone conclusion," Drake said. "What's needed is to maintain the current level of vigilance and keep pressing forward as hard as we can."

Epidemic modeling is an important tool that helps public health officials design, target and implement policies and procedures to control disease transmission, and several models of the 2014 Ebola epidemic have already been published. According to Drake, many of these models seek to estimate the disease's reproductive number--the number of new cases that one infected individual can generate.

"This is useful because it says how far transmission must be reduced to contain the epidemic," he said. "Our model does this too, but it does other stuff as well. It aims to be intermediate in complexity--it captures all the things we think to be most important and ignores the rest."

Those important variables include infection and treatment setting, individual variation in infectiousness, the actual build-up of hospital capacity over time and changing burial practices. The researchers used a mathematical formulation known as branching processes--a method for keeping track of all possible epidemic outcomes in proportion to their probabilities--calibrated with newly developed methods.

To build this more complex model, Drake and his colleagues started with information gleaned from earlier Ebola outbreaks. They included data about variables such as the numbers of patients hospitalized health care workers infected, which allowed them to estimate the level of under-reporting; rates of transmission in hospitals, the community and from funerals; and the effectiveness of infection control measures.

Once they had a working model with plausible parameters, they fine-tuned it using data from the World Health Organization and the Liberia Ministry of Health for the period from July 4 through Sept. 2, 2014. This included information about new cases as well as changes in behavior and public health interventions during that time, such as the addition of roughly 300 hospital beds and the adoption of safer burial practices.

Liberia continued to add hospital beds after Sept. 2, so in mid-December, Drake and his team updated the model to include information collected through Dec.1. Using reported data rather than estimates from the earlier version of the model significantly cut down on the range of future possibilities, showing that the response by the Liberian government and international groups had greatly reduced the likelihood of a massive epidemic.

The model should prove useful beyond the current Ebola crisis, Drake said. "We introduced a new method for model fitting--the method of plausible parameter sets--that could be used in future rapid response scenarios."

Plausible parameter sets use recorded data that falls within the range of possibilities generated by the model at least 500 times, meaning that the model "fits" the data closely. This keeps the model's projections in line with observed reality, making it particularly useful for investigating a wide range of realistic potential interventions and accounting for the impacts of human behavior on disease transmission.

###

The study is available online at http://www.plosbiology.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pbio.1002056.

Model coauthors were RajReni B. Kaul, Laura W. Alexander, Suzanne M. O'Regan, Andrew M. Kramer, J. Tomlin Pulliam and Andrew W. Park of UGA's Odum School and Matthew J. Ferrari of Pennsylvania State University. The research was conducted under the auspices of the Ebola Modeling Working Group of the National Institutes of Health Institute of General Medical Sciences Models of Infectious Disease Agent Study.

For more information about the Odum School of Ecology, see http://www.ecology.uga.edu

Media Contact

John M. Drake
jdrake@uga.edu
706-583-5539

 @universityofga

http://www.uga.edu 

John M. Drake | EurekAlert!

Further reports about: Ebola Health Odum UGA disease transmission epidemic estimate public health variables

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht A promising target for kidney fibrosis
21.04.2017 | Brigham and Women's Hospital

nachricht Stem cell transplants: activating signal paths may protect from graft-versus-host disease
20.04.2017 | Technische Universität München

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

Im Focus: Quantum-physical Model System

Computer-assisted methods aid Heidelberg physicists in reproducing experiment with ultracold atoms

Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...

Im Focus: Glacier bacteria’s contribution to carbon cycling

Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.

A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A promising target for kidney fibrosis

21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine

Light rays from a supernova bent by the curvature of space-time around a galaxy

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>