Ebola research shows rapid control interventions are a key factor in preventing spread

Oct. 10, 2014

New Ebola research demonstrates that quick and forceful implementation of control interventions are necessary to control outbreaks and avoid far worse scenarios. In an article published in the journal Eurosurveillance, researchers analyzed up-to-date epidemiological data of Ebola cases in Nigeria as of October 1, 2014, in order to estimate the case fatality rate, proportion of healthcare workers infected, transmission progression, and impact of control interventions on the size of the epidemic.

Researchers used epidemic modeling to project the size of the outbreak in Nigeria if control interventions had been implemented during various time periods after the initial case and estimated how many cases had thus been prevented by the early initiation of interventions that occurred in that nation.

Control measures enacted in Nigeria included all people showing Ebola symptoms being held in an isolation ward if they had had contact with the initial case. Once Ebola was confirmed through testing, people with Ebola were moved to a treatment center. Asymptomatic individuals were separated from those showing symptoms, and those who tested negative without symptoms were discharged. People who tested negative but showed symptoms were observed and discharged after 21 days if they were free of symptoms, while being kept apart from people who tested positive for the disease.

“Rapid and forceful control measures are necessary, as is demonstrated by the Nigerian success story. This is critically important for countries in the West African region that are not yet affected by the Ebola epidemic, as well as for countries in other regions of the world that risk importation of the disease,” says Gerardo Chowell, PhD, senior author of the article.

“The swift control of the outbreak in Nigeria was likely facilitated by early detection of the initial case in combination with intense tracing efforts of all subsequent contacts that the person had after developing Ebola,” says Folorunso Oludayo Fasina, PhD, lead author. “By contrast, the initial outbreak in Guinea remained undetected for several weeks, facilitating the spread of the virus to Sierra Leone and Liberia where the inability to track and contain infectious individuals compounded the situation and resulted in an uncontrolled epidemic.” Read the article.

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