The basic reproductive number of Ebola and the effects of public health measures: the cases of Congo and Uganda

J Theor Biol. 2004 Jul 7;229(1):119-26. doi: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2004.03.006.


Despite improved control measures, Ebola remains a serious public health risk in African regions where recurrent outbreaks have been observed since the initial epidemic in 1976. Using epidemic modeling and data from two well-documented Ebola outbreaks (Congo 1995 and Uganda 2000), we estimate the number of secondary cases generated by an index case in the absence of control interventions R0. Our estimate of R0 is 1.83 (SD 0.06) for Congo (1995) and 1.34 (SD 0.03) for Uganda (2000). We model the course of the outbreaks via an SEIR (susceptible-exposed-infectious-removed) epidemic model that includes a smooth transition in the transmission rate after control interventions are put in place. We perform an uncertainty analysis of the basic reproductive number R0 to quantify its sensitivity to other disease-related parameters. We also analyse the sensitivity of the final epidemic size to the time interventions begin and provide a distribution for the final epidemic size. The control measures implemented during these two outbreaks (including education and contact tracing followed by quarantine) reduce the final epidemic size by a factor of 2 relative the final size with a 2-week delay in their implementation.

MeSH terms

  • Congo
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Ebolavirus / physiology*
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / prevention & control
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / transmission*
  • Humans
  • Least-Squares Analysis
  • Models, Biological
  • Public Health Practice*
  • Time Factors
  • Uganda