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Inference and forecast of the current west african ebola outbreak in Guinea, sierra leone and liberia.


The current West African Ebola outbreak poses an unprecedented public health challenge for the world at large. The response of the global community to the epidemic, including deployment of nurses, doctors, epidemiologists, beds, supplies and security, is shaped by our understanding of the spatial-temporal extent and progression of the disease. Ongoing evaluation of the epidemiological characteristics and future course of the Ebola outbreak is needed to stay abreast of any changes to its transmission dynamics, as well as the success or failure of intervention efforts. Here we use observations, dynamic modeling and Bayesian inference to generate simulations and weekly forecasts of the outbreaks in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Estimates of key epidemiological characteristics over time indicate continued epidemic growth in West Africa, though there is some evidence of slowing growth in Liberia. 6-week forecasts over successive weeks corroborate these findings; forecasts projecting no future change in intervention efficacy have been more accurate for Guinea and Sierra Leone, but have overestimated incidence and mortality for Liberia.