Following the April 2018 reemergence of Ebola in a rural region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the virus spread to an urban center by early May. Within 2 wk of the first case confirmation, a vaccination campaign was initiated in which 3,017 doses were administered to contacts of cases and frontline healthcare workers. To evaluate the spatial dynamics of Ebola transmission and quantify the impact of vaccination, we developed a geographically explicit model that incorporates high-resolution data on poverty and population density. We found that while Ebola risk was concentrated around sites initially reporting infections, longer-range dissemination also posed a risk to areas with high population density and poverty. We estimate that the vaccination program contracted the geographical area at risk for Ebola by up to 70.4% and reduced the level of risk within that region by up to 70.1%. The early implementation of vaccination was critical. A delay of even 1 wk would have reduced these effects to 33.3 and 44.8%, respectively. These results underscore the importance of the rapid deployment of Ebola vaccines during emerging outbreaks to containing transmission and preventing global spread. The spatiotemporal framework developed here provides a tool for identifying high-risk regions, in which surveillance can be intensified and preemptive control can be implemented during future outbreaks.
Keywords: Ebolavirus; spatial analysis; spatial interaction model; vaccine.