Testing modeling assumptions in the West Africa Ebola outbreak

Keith Burghardt, Christopher Verzijl, Junming Huang, Matthew Ingram, Binyang Song, Marie Pierre Hasne

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3 Scopus citations


The Ebola virus in West Africa has infected almost 30,000 and killed over 11,000 people. Recent models of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) have often made assumptions about how the disease spreads, such as uniform transmissibility and homogeneous mixing within a population. In this paper, we test whether these assumptions are necessarily correct, and offer simple solutions that may improve disease model accuracy. First, we use data and models of West African migration to show that EVD does not homogeneously mix, but spreads in a predictable manner. Next, we estimate the initial growth rate of EVD within country administrative divisions and find that it significantly decreases with population density. Finally, we test whether EVD strains have uniform transmissibility through a novel statistical test, and find that certain strains appear more often than expected by chance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number34598
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - Oct 10 2016


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Burghardt, K., Verzijl, C., Huang, J., Ingram, M., Song, B., & Pierre Hasne, M. (2016). Testing modeling assumptions in the West Africa Ebola outbreak. Scientific Reports, 6, [34598]. https://doi.org/10.1038/srep34598