Ebola

Superspreaders are local and disproportionate

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Science  10 Mar 2017:
Vol. 355, Issue 6329, pp. 1036
DOI: 10.1126/science.355.6329.1036-a

Ebola virus isolated from patient blood samples

PHOTO: NIAID

Certain individuals, known as superspreaders, disproportionately infect more people with disease-causing organisms than the average infectious case. Lau et al. identified key drivers of Ebola virus (EBOV) superspreading during the 2014 West Africa outbreak. Unexpectedly, secondary cases largely did not transmit tertiary cases; thus, epidemic growth was fueled and sustained by a few superspreaders, and transmission occurred locally, within 2.5 km of the source. Community-based EBOV cases progressed more rapidly than those identified in clinical care settings. The most infectious age groups tended to be the young or people over 45 years old, which may reflect social structure, such as the intimacy of care needs, or immunological factors. This work helps to identify the most vulnerable groups and provide parameters for control efforts in future outbreaks of EBOV.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 10.1073/pnas.1614595114 (2017).

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