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PLoS One. 2012;7(12):e50948. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0050948. Epub 2012 Dec 10.

Transmission potential and design of adequate control measures for Marburg hemorrhagic fever.

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  • 1Bruno Kessler Foundation, Trento, Italy.

Abstract

Marburg hemorrhagic fever is rare yet among the most severe diseases affecting humans, with case fatality ratio even higher than 80%. By analyzing the largest documented Marburg hemorrhagic fever epidemic, which occurred in Angola in 2005 and caused 329 deaths, and data on viral load over time in non-human primates, we make an assessment of transmissibility and severity of the disease. We also give insight into the control of new Marburg hemorrhagic fever epidemics to inform appropriate health responses. We estimated the distribution of the generation time to have mean 9 days (95%CI: 8.2-10 days) and standard deviation 5.4 days (95%CI: 3.9-8.6 days), and the basic reproduction number to be R(0) = 1.59 (95%CI: 1.53-1.66). Model simulations suggest that a timely isolation of cases, starting no later than 2-3 days after symptoms onset, is sufficient to contain an outbreak. Our analysis reveals that Marburg hemorrhagic fever is characterized by a relatively small reproduction number and by a relatively long generation time. Such factors, along with the extremely high severity and fatality, support the rare occurrence of large epidemics in human populations. Our results also support the effectiveness of social distancing measures--case isolation in particular--to contain or at least to mitigate an emerging outbreak. This work represents an advance in the knowledge required to manage a potential Marburg hemorrhagic fever epidemic.

PMID:
23251407
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3519495
Free PMC Article
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