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Abstract

Background: On March 23, 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) was notified of an outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in Guinea. On August 8, the WHO declared the epidemic to be a "public health emergency of international concern."

Methods: By September 14, 2014, a total of 4507 probable and confirmed cases, including 2296 deaths from EVD (Zaire species) had been reported from five countries in West Africa--Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sierra Leone. We analyzed a detailed subset of data on 3343 confirmed and 667 probable Ebola cases collected in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone as of September 14.

Results: The majority of patients are 15 to 44 years of age (49.9% male), and we estimate that the case fatality rate is 70.8% (95% confidence interval [CI], 69 to 73) among persons with known clinical outcome of infection. The course of infection, including signs and symptoms, incubation period (11.4 days), and serial interval (15.3 days), is similar to that reported in previous outbreaks of EVD. On the basis of the initial periods of exponential growth, the estimated basic reproduction numbers (R0 ) are 1.71 (95% CI, 1.44 to 2.01) for Guinea, 1.83 (95% CI, 1.72 to 1.94) for Liberia, and 2.02 (95% CI, 1.79 to 2.26) for Sierra Leone. The estimated current reproduction numbers (R) are 1.81 (95% CI, 1.60 to 2.03) for Guinea, 1.51 (95% CI, 1.41 to 1.60) for Liberia, and 1.38 (95% CI, 1.27 to 1.51) for Sierra Leone; the corresponding doubling times are 15.7 days (95% CI, 12.9 to 20.3) for Guinea, 23.6 days (95% CI, 20.2 to 28.2) for Liberia, and 30.2 days (95% CI, 23.6 to 42.3) for Sierra Leone. Assuming no change in the control measures for this epidemic, by November 2, 2014, the cumulative reported numbers of confirmed and probable cases are predicted to be 5740 in Guinea, 9890 in Liberia, and 5000 in Sierra Leone, exceeding 20,000 in total.

Conclusions: These data indicate that without drastic improvements in control measures, the numbers of cases of and deaths from EVD are expected to continue increasing from hundreds to thousands per week in the coming months.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1. Districts Affected by Ebola Virus Disease in Three Countries in Africa
The map shows the districts that have been affected by Ebola virus disease in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Gray circles indicate the total numbers of confirmed and probable Ebola cases reported in each affected district, and red circles the number reported during the 21 days leading up to September 14, 2014.
Figure 2
Figure 2. Weekly Incidence of Confirmed, Probable, and Suspected Ebola Virus Disease Cases
Shown is the weekly incidence of confirmed, probable, and suspected EVD cases, according to actual or inferred week of symptom onset. A suspected case is illness in any person, alive or dead, who has (or had) sudden onset of high fever and had contact with a person with a suspected, probable, or confirmed Ebola case or with a dead or sick animal; any person with sudden onset of high fever and at least three of the following symptoms: headache, vomiting, anorexia or loss of appetite, diarrhea, lethargy, stomach pain, aching muscles or joints, difficulty swallowing, breathing difficulties, or hiccupping; or any person who had unexplained bleeding or who died suddenly from an unexplained cause. A probable case is illness in any person suspected to have EVD who was evaluated by a clinician or any person who died from suspected Ebola and had an epidemiologic link to a person with a confirmed case but was not tested and did not have laboratory confirmation of the disease. A probable or suspected case was classified as confirmed when a sample from the person was positive for Ebola virus in laboratory testing.
Figure 3
Figure 3. Time between Exposure and Disease Onset
Panel A through D show the observed times (>0) between exposure and disease onset for all countries, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, respectively, including only cases with multiple exposure days (histograms in gray), best-fit (gamma) probability density function (red curves) and cumulative distribution for the incubation period (blue curves). Panel E shows the observed times between disease onset in an index case patient and disease onset in the person infected by the index case patient (histograms in gray) and best-fit (gamma) probability density function (red curve) and cumulative distribution (blue curve) for the serial interval.
Figure 4
Figure 4. Observed and Projected Case Incidence
Observed and projected weekly case incidence in Guinea (Panel A), Liberia (Panel B), and Sierra Leone (Panel C) are shown on linear (upper panels) and logarithmic (lower panels) scales

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