Annotated Ebola lit list: September 2015

In the interests of not letting perfect be the enemy of halfway decent, I am finally putting something new up on this blog. Unlike the past monographs, this will (hopefully) be the first of a series of monthly bullet-point posts on new articles that caught my eye. Clearly this will not be as “real time” as Twitter, etc, but it might just help you keep up with what is new-ish in Ebola research.

Note: This list will be heavy on epidemiological matters, moderate on clinical/operational and light on basic science. If we are really lucky, I might even add some commentary to link them together. Maybe.

A. Mathematical epidemiology

  1. Characterizing Ebola Transmission Patterns Based on Internet News Reports. Julie Cleaton and colleagues compared Ebola epidemic parameters derived from news reports with those estimated from epidemiological models, running up to February 2015. Media-based estimates were higher, but not qualitatively different from, those from more traditional sources.
  2. Modeling contact tracing in outbreaks with application to Ebola. Cameron Browne and colleagues explore how the effective reproductive number is affected contact tracing. A theoretical paper applied to Ebola as a test case.
  3. Modeling household and community transmission of Ebola virus disease: epidemic growth, spatial dynamics and insights for epidemic control. Maria Kiskowski and Gerardo Chowell build a three-scale network (individuals, households, communities) that structures contacts and thus disease spread. The authors highlight that the network structure slows and structures epidemic spread in predictable ways
  4. The velocity of Ebola spread in parts of west Africa. As an timely complement to Kiskowski’s paper, Kate Zinzer and colleagues at Healthmap show how fast Ebola actually spread geographically from its presumed ground-zero in Guéckédou across the three most-affected countries. Apparently, the answer is, an average of 19.3km/week.
  5. Decreased Ebola Transmission after Rapid Response to Outbreaks in Remote Areas, Liberia, 2014.  Kim Lindblade and large CDC team evaluated the evolution of the reproductive number following a complex anti-Ebola intervention (case isolation, contact tracing/monitoring, behaviour change messaging) in rural Liberia from July 2014 onwards. The team show a huge drop in R0 from 1.7 to 0.1, largely driven by a 90% drop in secondary infections for patients admitted to ETUs. ETUs also halved mortality risk.

B. Social Epidemiology

  1. Ebola epidemic exposes the pathology of the global economic and political system. David Sanders and colleagues consider the political economy of the Ebola outbreak, including employment patterns, healthcare systems and the WHO, with the International Journal of Health Services’ signature focus on the political.
  2. Social Vulnerability and Ebola Virus Disease in Rural Liberia. John Stanturf and colleagues estimated a multidimensional Social Vulnerability Index at the Liberian district level, and compared results to Ebola outbreak figures across the country.

C. Operational practice

  1. Ebola Virus Diagnostics: The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Laboratory in Sierra Leone, August 2014 to March 2015. Mike Flint and many colleagues describe the CDC’s laboratory setup, processes and throughput in Bo.
  2. Remote Sensing of Vital Signs: A Wearable, Wireless “Band-Aid” Sensor With Personalized Analytics for Improved Ebola Patient Care and Worker Safety. Steven Steinbul and colleagues present a wireless sensor for Ebola patients that allows continuous monitoring without infection or fatigue (i.e. from PPE) risk for healthcare workers. The “MultiSense” was in field tests in July 2015.