Constructing, validating, and updating machine learning models to predict survival in children with Ebola Virus Disease

PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2022 Oct 12;16(10):e0010789. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0010789. eCollection 2022 Oct.


Background: Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) causes high case fatality rates (CFRs) in young children, yet there are limited data focusing on predicting mortality in pediatric patients. Here we present machine learning-derived prognostic models to predict clinical outcomes in children infected with Ebola virus.

Methods: Using retrospective data from the Ebola Data Platform, we investigated children with EVD from the West African EVD outbreak in 2014-2016. Elastic net regularization was used to create a prognostic model for EVD mortality. In addition to external validation with data from the 2018-2020 EVD epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), we updated the model using selected serum biomarkers.

Findings: Pediatric EVD mortality was significantly associated with younger age, lower PCR cycle threshold (Ct) values, unexplained bleeding, respiratory distress, bone/muscle pain, anorexia, dysphagia, and diarrhea. These variables were combined to develop the newly described EVD Prognosis in Children (EPiC) predictive model. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) for EPiC was 0.77 (95% CI: 0.74-0.81) in the West Africa derivation dataset and 0.76 (95% CI: 0.64-0.88) in the DRC validation dataset. Updating the model with peak aspartate aminotransferase (AST) or creatinine kinase (CK) measured within the first 48 hours after admission increased the AUC to 0.90 (0.77-1.00) and 0.87 (0.74-1.00), respectively.

Conclusion: The novel EPiC prognostic model that incorporates clinical information and commonly used biochemical tests, such as AST and CK, can be used to predict mortality in children with EVD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aspartate Aminotransferases
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Creatinine
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Ebolavirus*
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola*
  • Humans
  • Machine Learning
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Creatinine
  • Aspartate Aminotransferases