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Study: Prompt isolation of symptomatic patients is key to eliminating Ebola

Isolating the sickest Ebola-infected individuals before they progress into their late phase of illness can effectively eliminate the in , according to a modeling study being published in .

Currently, West Africa is in the midst of the largest and deadliest Ebola epidemic ever recorded. Liberia has been especially hard-hit with more than 3,500 infections and 2,000 deaths in the past three months. Researchers developed a random transmission model to determine how disease progression and case fatality affect transmission and how patient isolation could achieve disease elimination. They found that the risk for transmitting Ebola depends on the magnitude of viral load in an and the number of people with which the interacts. Here, differentiating between survivors and non-survivors is important because survivors tend to achieve peak viral load approximately four days after symptoms develop and then viral load declines.

The survivors were found to have a 32 percent probability of infecting at least one other individual during their infection period. In non-survivors, viral load is 100-fold higher than that of survivors throughout infection and does not decline after peak. Non-survivors also exhibit more severe Ebola-specific symptoms as illness progresses. Non-survivors had a 67 percent probability of transmitting Ebola to at least one other person. The researchers’ model suggests that isolating the most severely ill individuals (the likely non-survivors) within four days of symptom onset could achieve disease elimination in Liberia.

Article: Effect of Ebola Progression on Transmission and Control in Liberia, Dan Yamin, PhD; Shai Gertler; Martial L. Ndeffo-Mbah, PhD; Laura A. Skrip, MPH; Mosoka Fallah, PhD; Tolbert G. Nyenswah, MPH; Frederick L. Altice, MD, MA; and Alison P. Galvani, PhD, Annals of Internal Medicine, doi:10.7326/M14-2255, published online 28 October 2014.


Article adapted by Medical News Today from original press release.

Source: American College of Physicians