Ebola: A disease without borders

A disease without borders

On Sept. 30, news spread that a man in Dallas had been diagnosed with Ebola after traveling from Liberia. Interestingly, the news confirmed research findings led by a UF expert and colleagues, who predicted in an analysis published earlier in September that there was a 20 percent chance an isolated case of the disease would make its way to the U.S. by the end of September. Published in the journal PLOS Currents: Outbreaks, the analysis combined patterns of international travel with estimates of how fast Ebola is spreading to calculate how quickly the disease might move to different locations. The researchers anticipated that any cases in the U.S. would be quickly isolated and contained, not reaching any sort of outbreak level currently found in West Africa. “We would assume that the U.S. would have sufficient capacity to test people and treat them. We would not expect any real transmission in the U.S.,” said study co-author Ira Longini, Ph.D., a professor of biostatistics in the UF colleges of Medicine and Public Health and Health Professions. Initially, the disease was expected to spread to currently unaffected African countries, which further increases the likelihood of it spreading beyond the continent’s borders. There is not a high level of international travel among some of the affected countries, such as Liberia and Sierra Leone. But Nigeria, where the outbreak has also spread, is linked to many countries across the globe. As many as 6,000 passengers travel from Nigeria to the U.S. each week. To read more, visit https://ufhealth.org/news/2014/spread-ebola-beyond-africa-likely-researchers-predict.— April Frawley