I am an Academician and a Researcher. I apply computational methods and tools for disease control.


A Comparative Genomics of Different Ebola Virus Disease Strains for disease monitoring and control

The spate of Ebola Virus Disease among West African countries in the year 2014 created untold hardships and fatality cases. After curtailing the disease few years after, Ebola Virus Disease has re-emerged and it has been confirmed in DRC Congo on the 11th of May 2017. The disease has killed some inhabitants of a remote village in the Northeastern region of DRC Congo. This research is very timely. We conducted a comprehensive computational comparative genomics among five (5) different strains of some identified Ebola Viruses genome with a view to creating an alternative control strategy to curb the transmissions of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). The updated versions of the completely sequenced genomes of five different strains of Ebola virus data was obtained from the NCBI database. We applied the Clustal X software (version 2.1) on a Windows Operating System (OS) platform to perform a complete multiple sequence alignment on the five (5) different Ebola virus strains. We also performed the phylogeny analysis of the five Ebola virus strains. We applied the UPGMA clustering algorithm for the first analysis. We adopted the NJ clustering algorithm in our second phylogeny analysis. Results show that the multiple sequence alignment of the five Ebola virus strains have some regions in common. Specifically, the results elucidated different residue types which provide more insight for the control of the disease. The five Ebola strains have the amino acids (Cys, Val, Ile, Pro, Phe, Tyr, Met, Trp) in common in the large green regions of the alignments; The blue regions reveal the positively charged nature of the regions specified with amino acids (Lys, Arg). The yellow regions reveal the small non-polar residue type with amino acids (Gly, Ala,Ser, Thr). The phylogeny results revealed that the Bundibugyo and Sudan Ebola virus strains are closely related. The results also showed that the Reston and Tai forest Ebola virus strains are closely related. However, the Zaire Ebola virus strains stood out in the phylogeny results. Insight gained from these results can (i)form a good foundation for the production of multi-protective and multi-treatment vaccines for different Ebola virus strains(ii)provide drug targets as control measures to prevent the spread of Ebola Virus Disease(EVD)(iii)help understand geographical disease-progression factors and suppress them.

Early Novel published related works include: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352914816000034


Temporal and spatial analysis of the 2014-2015 Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa.

Abstract: West Africa is currently witnessing the most extensive Ebola virus (EBOV) outbreak so far recorded. Until now, there have been 27,013 reported cases and 11,134 deaths. The origin of the virus is thought to have been a zoonotic transmission from a bat to a two-year-old boy in December 2013 (ref. 2). From this index case the virus was spread by human-to-human contact throughout Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. However, the origin of the particular virus in each country and time of transmission is not known and currently relies on epidemiological analysis, which may be unreliable owing to the difficulties of obtaining patient information. Here we trace the genetic evolution of EBOV in the current outbreak that has resulted in multiple lineages. Deep sequencing of 179 patient samples processed by the European Mobile Laboratory, the first diagnostics unit to be deployed to the epicentre of the outbreak in Guinea, reveals an epidemiological and evolutionary history of the epidemic from March 2014 to January 2015. Analysis of EBOV genome evolution has also benefited from a similar sequencing effort of patient samples from Sierra Leone. Our results confirm that the EBOV from Guinea moved into Sierra Leone, most likely in April or early May. The viruses of the Guinea/Sierra Leone lineage mixed around June/July 2014. Viral sequences covering August, September and October 2014 indicate that this lineage evolved independently within Guinea. These data can be used in conjunction with epidemiological information to test retrospectively the effectiveness of control measures, and provides an unprecedented window into the evolution of an ongoing viral haemorrhagic fever outbreak.

Pub.: 18 Jun '15, Pinned: 18 Aug '17

Real-time dynamic modelling for the design of a cluster-randomized phase 3 Ebola vaccine trial in Sierra Leone.

Abstract: Declining incidence and spatial heterogeneity complicated the design of phase 3 Ebola vaccine trials during the tail of the 2013-16 Ebola virus disease (EVD) epidemic in West Africa. Mathematical models can provide forecasts of expected incidence through time and can account for both vaccine efficacy in participants and effectiveness in populations. Determining expected disease incidence was critical to calculating power and determining trial sample size.In real-time, we fitted, forecasted, and simulated a proposed phase 3 cluster-randomized vaccine trial for a prime-boost EVD vaccine in three candidate regions in Sierra Leone. The aim was to forecast trial feasibility in these areas through time and guide study design planning.EVD incidence was highly variable during the epidemic, especially in the declining phase. Delays in trial start date were expected to greatly reduce the ability to discern an effect, particularly as a trial with an effective vaccine would cause the epidemic to go extinct more quickly in the vaccine arm. Real-time updates of the model allowed decision-makers to determine how trial feasibility changed with time.This analysis was useful for vaccine trial planning because we simulated effectiveness as well as efficacy, which is possible with a dynamic transmission model. It contributed to decisions on choice of trial location and feasibility of the trial. Transmission models should be utilised as early as possible in the design process to provide mechanistic estimates of expected incidence, with which decisions about sample size, location, timing, and feasibility can be determined.

Pub.: 28 Dec '16, Pinned: 16 Aug '17

Safe and Effective Deployment of Personnel to Support the Ebola Response - West Africa.

Abstract: From the initial task of getting "50 deployers within 30 days" into the field to support the 2014-2016 Ebola virus disease (Ebola) epidemic response in West Africa to maintaining well over 200 staff per day in the most affected countries (Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone) during the peak of the response, ensuring the safe and effective deployment of international responders was an unprecedented accomplishment by CDC. Response experiences shared by CDC deployed staff returning from West Africa were quickly incorporated into lessons learned and resulted in new activities to better protect the health, safety, security, and resiliency of responding personnel. Enhanced screening of personnel to better match skill sets and experience with deployment needs was developed as a staffing strategy. The mandatory predeployment briefings were periodically updated with these lessons to ensure that staff were aware of what to expect before, during, and after their deployments. Medical clearance, security awareness, and resiliency programs became a standard part of both predeployment and postdeployment activities. Response experience also led to the identification and provision of more appropriate equipment for the environment. Supporting the social and emotional needs of deployed staff and their families also became an agency focus for care and communication. These enhancements set a precedent as a new standard for future CDC responses, regardless of size or complexity.The activities summarized in this report would not have been possible without collaboration with many U.S and international partners (http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/outbreaks/2014-west-africa/partners.html).

Pub.: 09 Jul '16, Pinned: 16 Aug '17

Lessons of Risk Communication and Health Promotion - West Africa and United States.

Abstract: During the response to the 2014-2016 Ebola virus disease (Ebola) epidemic in West Africa, CDC addressed the disease on two fronts: in the epidemic epicenter of West Africa and at home in the United States. Different needs drove the demand for information in these two regions. The severity of the epidemic was reflected not only in lives lost but also in the amount of fear, misinformation, and stigma that it generated worldwide. CDC helped increase awareness, promoted actions to stop the spread of Ebola, and coordinated CDC communication efforts with multiple international and domestic partners. CDC, with input from partners, vastly increased the number of Ebola communication materials for groups with different needs, levels of health literacy, and cultural preferences. CDC deployed health communicators to West Africa to support ministries of health in developing and disseminating clear, science-based messages and promoting science-based behavioral interventions. Partnerships in West Africa with local radio, television, and cell phone businesses made possible the dissemination of messages appropriate for maximum effect. CDC and its partners communicated evolving science and risk in a culturally appropriate way to motivate persons to adapt their behavior and prevent infection with and spread of Ebola virus. Acknowledging what is and is not known is key to effective risk communication, and CDC worked with partners to integrate health promotion and behavioral and cultural knowledge into the response to increase awareness of the actual risk for Ebola and to promote protective actions and specific steps to stop its spread. The activities summarized in this report would not have been possible without collaboration with many U.S. and international partners (http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/outbreaks/2014-west-africa/partners.html).

Pub.: 09 Jul '16, Pinned: 16 Aug '17

Early Identification and Prevention of the Spread of Ebola - United States.

Abstract: In response to the 2014-2016 Ebola virus disease (Ebola) epidemic in West Africa, CDC prepared for the potential introduction of Ebola into the United States. The immediate goals were to rapidly identify and isolate any cases of Ebola, prevent transmission, and promote timely treatment of affected patients. CDC's technical expertise and the collaboration of multiple partners in state, local, and municipal public health departments; health care facilities; emergency medical services; and U.S. government agencies were essential to the domestic preparedness and response to the Ebola epidemic and relied on longstanding partnerships. CDC established a comprehensive response that included two new strategies: 1) active monitoring of travelers arriving from countries affected by Ebola and other persons at risk for Ebola and 2) a tiered system of hospital facility preparedness that enabled prioritization of training. CDC rapidly deployed a diagnostic assay for Ebola virus (EBOV) to public health laboratories. Guidance was developed to assist in evaluation of patients possibly infected with EBOV, for appropriate infection control, to support emergency responders, and for handling of infectious waste. CDC rapid response teams were formed to provide assistance within 24 hours to a health care facility managing a patient with Ebola. As a result of the collaborations to rapidly identify, isolate, and manage Ebola patients and the extensive preparations to prevent spread of EBOV, the United States is now better prepared to address the next global infectious disease threat.The activities summarized in this report would not have been possible without collaboration with many U.S. and international partners (http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/outbreaks/2014-west-africa/partners.html).

Pub.: 09 Jul '16, Pinned: 16 Aug '17

Comparative Evaluation of the Diagnostic Performance of the Prototype Cepheid GeneXpert Ebola Assay.

Abstract: The Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in West Africa has highlighted an urgent need for point-of-care (POC) assays for the diagnosis of this devastating disease in resource-limited African countries. The diagnostic performance characteristics of a prototype Cepheid GeneXpert Ebola POC used to detect Ebola virus (EBOV) in stored serum and plasma samples collected from suspected EVD cases in Sierra Leone in 2014 and 2015 was evaluated. The GeneXpert Ebola POC is a self-contained single-cartridge automated system that targets the glycoprotein (GP) and nucleoprotein (NP) genes of EBOV and yields results within 90 min. Results from 281 patient samples were compared to the results of a TaqMan real-time reverse transcription-PCR (RT-PCR) targeting the polymerase gene and performed on two real-time PCR machines. Agreement between the three platforms was 100% at cycle threshold (CT) values of ≤34.99, but discordant results were noted between CT values of 35 and 45.The diagnostic sensitivity of the three platforms was 100% in 91 patient samples that were confirmed to be infectious by virus isolation. All three molecular platforms detected viral EBOV RNA in additional samples that did not contain viable EBOV. The analytical sensitivity of the GeneXpert Ebola POC for the detection of NP was higher, and comparable to that of polymerase gene detection, than that for the detection of GP when using a titrated laboratory stock of EBOV. There was no detectable cross-reactivity with other hemorrhagic fever viruses or arboviruses. The GeneXpert Ebola POC offers an easy to operate and sensitive diagnostic tool that can be used for the rapid screening of suspected EVD cases in treatment or in holding centers during EVD outbreaks.

Pub.: 08 Dec '15, Pinned: 16 Aug '17

Detection of Ebola virus envelope using monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies in ELISA, surface plasmon resonance and a quartz crystal microbalance immunosensor.

Abstract: Ebola virus (EBOV) Zaire, Sudan, as well as Ivory Coast are virulent human EBOV species. Both polyclonal and monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) were developed against soluble EBOV envelope glycoprotein (GP) for the study of EBOV envelope diversity and development of diagnostic reagents. Three EBOV Sudan-Gulu GP peptides, from the N-terminus, mid-GP, and C-terminus regions were used to immunize rabbits for the generation of anti-EBOV polyclonal antibodies. Polyclonal antisera raised against the C-terminus peptide could detect both Sudan-Gulu as well as Zaire GPs, while anti-N and mid-region peptide polyclonal sera recognized only EBOV Sudan-Gulu GP. Of the three anti-EBOV GP mouse MAbs produced, MAb 15H10 recognized all human EBOV GP species tested (Zaire, Sudan and Ivory Coast), and as well as reacted with the Reston non-human primate EBOV GPs. In addition, MAb 15H10 bound virion-associated GP of all known EBOV species. MAb 17A3 recognized GPs of both EBOV Sudan-Gulu and Zaire, while MAb 6D11 recognized only EBOV Sudan-Gulu GP. To detect EBOV GP, these antibody reagents were used in ELISA, surface plasmon resonance and in a quartz crystal microbalance immunosensor. Thus, polyclonal and monoclonal antibodies can be used in combination to identify and differentiate both human and non-human primate EBOV GPs.

Pub.: 22 Jul '06, Pinned: 16 Aug '17

Clinical features of patients isolated for suspected Ebola virus disease at Connaught Hospital, Freetown, Sierra Leone: a retrospective cohort study.

Abstract: The size of the west African Ebola virus disease outbreak led to the urgent establishment of Ebola holding unit facilities for isolation and diagnostic testing of patients with suspected Ebola virus disease. Following the onset of the outbreak in Sierra Leone, patients presenting to Connaught Hospital in Freetown were screened for suspected Ebola virus disease on arrival and, if necessary, were admitted to the on-site Ebola holding unit. Since demand for beds in this unit greatly exceeded capacity, we aimed to improve the selection of patients with suspected Ebola virus disease for admission by identifying presenting clinical characteristics that were predictive of a confirmed diagnosis.In this retrospective cohort study, we recorded the presenting clinical characteristics of suspected Ebola virus disease cases admitted to Connaught Hospital's Ebola holding unit. Patients were subsequently classified as confirmed Ebola virus disease cases or non-cases according to the result of Ebola virus reverse-transcriptase PCR (EBOV RT-PCR) testing. The sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, negative predictive value, and likelihood ratio of every clinical characteristic were calculated, to estimate the diagnostic accuracy and predictive value of each clinical characteristic for confirmed Ebola virus disease.Between May 29, 2014, and Dec 8, 2014, 850 patients with suspected Ebola virus disease were admitted to the holding unit, of whom 724 had an EBOV RT-PCR result recorded and were included in the analysis. In 464 (64%) of these patients, a diagnosis of Ebola virus disease was confirmed. Fever or history of fever (n=599, 83%), intense fatigue or weakness (n=495, 68%), vomiting or nausea (n=365, 50%), and diarrhoea (n=294, 41%) were the most common presenting symptoms in suspected cases. Presentation with intense fatigue, confusion, conjunctivitis, hiccups, diarrhea, or vomiting was associated with increased likelihood of confirmed Ebola virus disease. Three or more of these symptoms in combination increased the probability of Ebola virus disease by 3·2-fold (95% CI 2·3-4·4), but the sensitivity of this strategy for Ebola virus disease diagnosis was low. In a subgroup analysis, 15 (9%) of 161 confirmed Ebola virus disease cases reported neither a history of fever nor a risk factor for Ebola virus disease exposure.Discrimination of Ebola virus disease cases from patients without the disease is a major challenge in an outbreak and needs rapid diagnostic testing. Suspected Ebola virus disease case definitions that rely on history of fever and risk factors for Ebola virus disease exposure do not have sufficient sensitivity to identify all cases of the disease.None.

Pub.: 28 Jul '15, Pinned: 16 Aug '17

Clinical features of suspected Ebola cases referred to the Moyamba ETC, Sierra Leone: challenges in the later stages of the 2014 outbreak.

Abstract: The last ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak has been the most important since 1976. EVD cases decreased drastically in Sierra Leone at the beginning of 2015. We aim to determine the clinical findings and evolution of patients admitted to an Ebola treatment center (ETC) during the epidemic's late phase.We analyze retrospectively data of patients admitted to the Moyamba ETC (December 2014-March 2015). Patients were classified in EVD or non-EVD patients according to the results of Ebola virus real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (ZAIRE-RT-PCR).Seventy-five patients were included, 41.3 % were positive for ZAIRE-RT-PCR. More women (68 % vs 28 %, p = 0.001) were EVD-positive. More EVD patients had previous contact with an Ebola patient (74.2 % vs 36.3 %, p < 0.001). At admission, EVD patients were more likely to have fatigue (96.7 %, p < 0.001), diarrhea (67.7 %, p = 0.002), and muscle pain (61.3 %, p = 0.009); but only objective fevers in 35.5 % of EVD patients. The most reliable criteria for diagnosis were: contact with an Ebola patient plus three WHO symptoms (LR + =3.7, 95 % CI = 1.9-7.3), and positive contact (LR + =2.3, 95 % CI = 1.15-4.20). Only 45.2 % of EVD patients developed fevers during stay, but 75 % developed gastrointestinal symptoms. Non-EVD patients had gastrointestinal problems (33 %), respiratory conditions (26.6 %), and others such as malaria, HIV or tuberculosis with a mortality rate of 11.4 %. vs 58 % in EVD group (p < 0.001).More non-EVD patients were admitted in the outbreak's late phases. The low percentage of initial fever highlights the need to emphasize the epidemiological information. EVD patients presented new symptoms getting worse and requiring closer follow-up. Diagnoses of non-EVD patients were diverse with a remarkable mortality, presenting a challenge for the health system.

Pub.: 24 Jun '16, Pinned: 16 Aug '17

A practical community-based response strategy to interrupt Ebola transmission in sierra Leone, 2014-2015.

Abstract: The Ebola virus disease spread rapidly in West Africa in 2014, leading to the loss of thousands of lives. Community engagement was one of the key strategies to interrupt Ebola transmission, and practical community level measures needed to be explored in the field and tailored to the specific context of communities.First, community-level education on Ebola virus disease (EVD) prevention was launched for the community's social mobilizers in six districts in Sierra Leone beginning in November 2014. Then, from January to May of 2015, in three pilot communities, local trained community members were organized to engage in implementation of EVD prevention and transmission interruption measures, by involving them in alert case report, contact tracing, and social mobilization. The epidemiological indicators of transmission interruption in three study communities were evaluated.A total of 6 016 community social mobilizers from 185 wards were trained by holding 279 workshops in the six districts, and EVD message reached an estimated 631 680 residents. In three pilot communities, 72 EVD alert cases were reported, with 70.8 % of them detected by trained local community members, and 14 EVD cases were finally identified. Contact tracing detected 64.3 % of EVD cases. The median duration of community infectivity for the cases was 1 day. The secondary attack rate was 4.2 %, and no third generation of infection was triggered. No health worker was infected, and no unsafe burial and noncompliance to EVD control measures were recorded. The community-based measures were modeled to reduce 77 EVD cases, and the EVD-free goal was achieved four months earlier in study communities than whole country of Sierra Leone.The community-based strategy of social mobilization and community engagement was effective in case detection and reducing the extent of Ebola transmission in a country with weak health system. The successfully practical experience to reduce the risk of Ebola transmission in the community with poor resources would potentially be helpful for the global community to fight against the EVD and the other diseases in the future.

Pub.: 06 Aug '16, Pinned: 16 Aug '17

[The register of activity at the Ebola treatment center in Forecariah (Guinea) from April 23 to June 5, 2015: analysis and thoughts].

Abstract: The register of activity at the Ebola Treatment Center (ETC) in Forecariah (Guinea), from April 23 to June 5, 2015 is presented for analysis. The viral load of each patient is evaluated by the cycle threshold (Ct). One hundred and thirty patients were seen in Triage at the ETC, of which 24 (18.5%) patients who failed to meet theWHO case criteria for viral hemorrhagic fever were excluded from admission to the ETC. Of the 106 patients admitted in the ETC, 72 (67.9%) were declared non-cases after the results of their two PCR (drawn 48 hours apart) tests were negative. Thirty-four patients were tested positive for Ebola virus disease (EVD): 19 women and 15 men (sex ratio: male/female = 0.78), mean age of 33.51 ± 20.1 years (extremes of 42 days to 70 years), of which six children were aged below 8 years. The median initial Ct value was 21.6 ± 6.3 cycles in this group. Enquiry into patient contacts was only able to identify actual contacts in 20 of these patients (58.8%). Thirteen patients were ultimately cured of EVD (six men and seven women) - with a median age of 31.8 years (extremes of 4 to 54 years). These patients presented on admission with a median Ct value of 21.88 ± 6.2 cycles (extremes of 17.6 to 31.7). Of the six children aged below 8 years, only one survived. Twenty-one patients (61.76%) with EVD died (9 men and 12 women) - median age, 34 ± 21 years (extremes of 42 days to 70 years). They presented on admission with a median Ct value of 18 ± 7 cycles (extremes of 12 to 24). The single most important factor associated with lethality was the Ct value at the time of admission to the ETC (P = 0.0004), i.e., the lower the Ct value, the higher the lethality rate or simply stated, the higher the viral load, the greater the lethality. Age, sex, identification of contact, and delay between the onset of symptoms and admission did not prove to be predictive of death outcome in our series.

Pub.: 28 Jul '16, Pinned: 16 Aug '17

Clinical characteristics of 154 patients suspected of having Ebola virus disease in the Ebola holding center of Jui Government Hospital in Sierra Leone during the 2014 Ebola outbreak.

Abstract: This article sought to analyze the clinical features of 154 patients suspected of having Ebola virus disease (EVD) in an Ebola holding center in Sierra Leone from October 1 through November 9, 2014. We found that 108 of the 154 patients were confirmed with EVD. Eighty-five had known outcomes. Forty-nine of the 85 patients had been exposed to EVD. The average mortality rate was 60%. The mean interval between the onset of symptoms and hospitalization was 5.8 ± 3.3 days. The mean incubation period was 9.2 ± 6.7 days. Common symptoms of the EVD patients on admission were fatigue (85.2%), anorexia (84.3%), fever (75.9%), and headache (72.2%). Our data showed that the total symptoms of confirmed EVD patients were significantly higher than those of non-EVD patients (9 vs. 5.5; p < 0.001). The likelihood of EVD was 87.6% when a patient presented more than 6 out of 21 symptoms on admission. The survivors were significantly younger than non-survivors (24.0 ± 10.0 years vs. 31.3 ± 15.3 years; p = 0.016). The real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis showed that, in the survivors, the virus load was significantly lower (Ct value: 25.2 ± 4.1 vs. 28.7 ± 5.7; p = 0.002). Multivariate analysis showed that age, fever, and viral load were independent predictors of mortality. Taken together, our data suggested that a cutoff of six symptoms could be used to predict patients with high or low risk of EVD. It seemed that age, fever, and viral load were the main risk factors associated with EVD mortality.

Pub.: 01 Aug '15, Pinned: 16 Aug '17

Infection Prevention and Control for Ebola in Health Care Settings - West Africa and United States.

Abstract: The 2014-2016 Ebola virus disease (Ebola) epidemic in West Africa underscores the need for health care infection prevention and control (IPC) practices to be implemented properly and consistently to interrupt transmission of pathogens in health care settings to patients and health care workers. Training and assessing IPC practices in general health care facilities not designated as Ebola treatment units or centers became a priority for CDC as the number of Ebola virus transmissions among health care workers in West Africa began to affect the West African health care system and increasingly more persons became infected. CDC and partners developed policies, procedures, and training materials tailored to the affected countries. Safety training courses were also provided to U.S. health care workers intending to work with Ebola patients in West Africa. As the Ebola epidemic continued in West Africa, the possibility that patients with Ebola could be identified and treated in the United States became more realistic. In response, CDC, other federal components (e.g., Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response) and public health partners focused on health care worker training and preparedness for U.S. health care facilities. CDC used the input from these partners to develop guidelines on IPC for hospitalized patients with known or suspected Ebola, which was updated based on feedback from partners who provided care for Ebola patients in the United States. Strengthening and sustaining IPC helps health care systems be better prepared to prevent and respond to current and future infectious disease threats.The activities summarized in this report would not have been possible without collaboration with many U.S. and international partners (http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/outbreaks/2014-west-africa/partners.html).

Pub.: 09 Jul '16, Pinned: 16 Aug '17

Overview, Control Strategies, and Lessons Learned in the CDC Response to the 2014-2016 Ebola Epidemic.

Abstract: During 2014-2016, CDC, working with U.S. and international partners, mounted a concerted response to end the unprecedented epidemic of Ebola virus disease (Ebola) in West Africa. CDC's response, which was the largest in the agency's history, was directed simultaneously at controlling the epidemic in West Africa and strengthening preparedness for Ebola in the United States. Although experience in responding to approximately 20 Ebola outbreaks since 1976 had provided CDC and other international responders an understanding of the disease and how to stop its spread, the epidemic in West Africa presented new and formidable challenges. The initial response was slow and complicated for several reasons, including wide geographic spread of cases, poor public health and societal infrastructure, sociodemographic factors, local unfamiliarity with Ebola, and distrust of government and health care workers. In the United States, widespread public alarm erupted after Ebola cases were diagnosed in Dallas, Texas, and New York City, New York. CDC, in collaboration with its U.S. and international counterparts, applied proven public health strategies as well as innovative new approaches to help control the Ebola epidemic in West Africa and strengthen public health readiness in the United States. Lessons learned include the recognition that West African and other countries need effective systems to detect and stop infectious disease threats, the need for stronger international surge capacity for times when countries are overwhelmed by an outbreak, and the importance of improving infection prevention and control in health care settings. The activities summarized in this report would not have been possible without collaboration with many U.S. and international partners (http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/outbreaks/2014-west-africa/partners.html).

Pub.: 09 Jul '16, Pinned: 16 Aug '17

Assessment of the potential for international dissemination of Ebola virus via commercial air travel during the 2014 west African outbreak.

Abstract: The WHO declared the 2014 west African Ebola epidemic a public health emergency of international concern in view of its potential for further international spread. Decision makers worldwide are in need of empirical data to inform and implement emergency response measures. Our aim was to assess the potential for Ebola virus to spread across international borders via commercial air travel and assess the relative efficiency of exit versus entry screening of travellers at commercial airports.We analysed International Air Transport Association data for worldwide flight schedules between Sept 1, 2014, and Dec 31, 2014, and historic traveller flight itinerary data from 2013 to describe expected global population movements via commercial air travel out of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Coupled with Ebola virus surveillance data, we modelled the expected number of internationally exported Ebola virus infections, the potential effect of air travel restrictions, and the efficiency of airport-based traveller screening at international ports of entry and exit. We deemed individuals initiating travel from any domestic or international airport within these three countries to have possible exposure to Ebola virus. We deemed all other travellers to have no significant risk of exposure to Ebola virus.Based on epidemic conditions and international flight restrictions to and from Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone as of Sept 1, 2014 (reductions in passenger seats by 51% for Liberia, 66% for Guinea, and 85% for Sierra Leone), our model projects 2.8 travellers infected with Ebola virus departing the above three countries via commercial flights, on average, every month. 91,547 (64%) of all air travellers departing Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone had expected destinations in low-income and lower-middle-income countries. Screening international travellers departing three airports would enable health assessments of all travellers at highest risk of exposure to Ebola virus infection.Decision makers must carefully balance the potential harms from travel restrictions imposed on countries that have Ebola virus activity against any potential reductions in risk from Ebola virus importations. Exit screening of travellers at airports in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone would be the most efficient frontier at which to assess the health status of travellers at risk of Ebola virus exposure, however, this intervention might require international support to implement effectively.Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Pub.: 03 Dec '14, Pinned: 16 Aug '17

Travel and Border Health Measures to Prevent the International Spread of Ebola.

Abstract: During the 2014-2016 Ebola virus disease (Ebola) epidemic in West Africa, CDC implemented travel and border health measures to prevent international spread of the disease, educate and protect travelers and communities, and minimize disruption of international travel and trade. CDC staff provided in-country technical assistance for exit screening in countries in West Africa with Ebola outbreaks, implemented an enhanced entry risk assessment and management program for travelers at U.S. ports of entry, and disseminated information and guidance for specific groups of travelers and relevant organizations. New and existing partnerships were crucial to the success of this response, including partnerships with international organizations, such as the World Health Organization, the International Organization for Migration, and nongovernment organizations, as well as domestic partnerships with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and state and local health departments. Although difficult to assess, travel and border health measures might have helped control the epidemic's spread in West Africa by deterring or preventing travel by symptomatic or exposed persons and by educating travelers about protecting themselves. Enhanced entry risk assessment at U.S. airports facilitated management of travelers after arrival, including the recommended active monitoring. These measures also reassured airlines, shipping companies, port partners, and travelers that travel was safe and might have helped maintain continued flow of passenger traffic and resources needed for the response to the affected region. Travel and border health measures implemented in the countries with Ebola outbreaks laid the foundation for future reconstruction efforts related to borders and travel, including development of regional surveillance systems, cross-border coordination, and implementation of core capacities at designated official points of entry in accordance with the International Health Regulations (2005). New mechanisms developed during this response to target risk assessment and management of travelers arriving in the United States may enhance future public health responses. The activities summarized in this report would not have been possible without collaboration with many U.S. and international partners (http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/outbreaks/2014-west-africa/partners.html).

Pub.: 09 Jul '16, Pinned: 16 Aug '17

Active Monitoring of Travelers Arriving from Ebola-Affected Countries - New York City, October 2014-April 2015.

Abstract: The Ebola virus disease (Ebola) outbreak in West Africa has claimed approximately 11,300 lives (1), and the magnitude and course of the epidemic prompted many nonaffected countries to prepare for Ebola cases imported from affected countries. In October 2014, CDC and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) implemented enhanced entry risk assessment and management at five U.S. airports: John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport in New York City (NYC), O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, and Dulles International Airport in Virginia (2). Enhanced entry risk assessment began at JFK on October 11, 2014, and at the remaining airports on October 16 (3). On October 21, DHS exercised its authority to direct all travelers flying into the United States from an Ebola-affected country to arrive at one of the five participating airports. At the time, the Ebola-affected countries included Guinea, Liberia, Mali, and Sierra Leone. On October 27, CDC issued updated guidance for monitoring persons with potential Ebola virus exposure (4), including recommending daily monitoring of such persons to ascertain the presence of fever or symptoms for a period of 21 days (the maximum incubation period of Ebola virus) after the last potential exposure; this was termed "active monitoring." CDC also recommended "direct active monitoring" of persons with a higher risk for Ebola virus exposure, including health care workers who had provided direct patient care in Ebola-affected countries. Direct active monitoring required direct observation of the person being monitored by the local health authority at least once daily (5). This report describes the operational structure of the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's (DOHMH) active monitoring program during its first 6 months (October 2014-April 2015) of operation. Data collected on persons who required direct active monitoring are not included in this report.

Pub.: 29 Jan '16, Pinned: 16 Aug '17