SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2016

Computer model outlines spread of Ebola

Computer model outlines spread of Ebola outbreak | Courtesy of waterandhealth.org
Analysts recently created a computer model that outlines how the Ebola outbreak spread, which may help researchers anticipate the spread of the disease in the future.

The model shows two important points that will help scientists control other epidemics. It currently maps out the Ebola outbreak that took place in Sierra Leone in 2014. As of today, this is the most detailed outline of how the virus spread. The data can be altered to demonstrate other outbreaks in other regions at different times.

"While this analysis is too late to be used for application to and intervention in the Ebola epidemic, the method we used could be useful for future disease outbreaks, and not just for Ebola," Jeffrey Shaman,  the study's senior author and associate professor of Environmental Health Sciences at the Mailman School, said. "To be able to infer the spatial-temporal course of an outbreak and the rate of its spread between population centers in real time may greatly aid public health planning, including the level and speed of deployment of intervention measures such as how many doctors and beds are needed and where to put them."

The model could help researchers battle other epidemics when they encounter challenging contact tracing and a weak health care system, which were two points that greatly facilitated the Ebola outbreak.

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