Ebola Outbreak Larger Than Model Predicted

Thomas House Warwick Mathematics Institute University of Warwick, Coventry. Medical Research Interview with:
Thomas House
Warwick Mathematics Institute
University of Warwick, Coventry.

Medical Research: What are the main findings of this report?

Dr House: I analysed the historic patterns of Ebola outbreaks, in particular their rate of introduction (about every 1.5 years), case fatality ratio (which varied between outbreaks but was typically high) and overall severity (which was very variable).

Medical Research: How is the Ebola virus different/similar to previous epidemics ie HIV?

Dr House: Different diseases have different routes of transmission. HIV is spread via risky sexual behaviour or direct blood contact, while Ebola can be transmitted directly from person to person. Other things that vary between diseases are the duration of the infectious period, and the frequency of adverse effects in the event of infection. The duration of the infectious period for Ebola is within the range we would expect for infectious diseases, and it is not highly contagious – what is so exceptional about it is the extremely large proportion of cases that die.

Medical Research: What is most surprising about this epidemic?

Dr House: At present, its size is beyond what my model predicts, indicating that it is likely something fundamental has changed.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr House: There is no room for complacency as regards the current outbreak.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr House: It is important to understand what is causing the current outbreak to be so much more severe – has there been a mutation, have contact patterns changed with development, or is it related to the nature of the response?

Citation:

Epidemiological Dynamics of Ebola Outbreaks.

Elife. 2014 Sep 12:e03908. doi: 10.7554/eLife.03908. House T.