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PLoS Curr. 2015 Apr 28;7. pii: ecurrents.outbreaks.e6659013c1d7f11bdab6a20705d1e865. doi: 10.1371/currents.outbreaks.e6659013c1d7f11bdab6a20705d1e865.

2014 ebola outbreak: media events track changes in observed reproductive number.

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Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Engineering Systems Division, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.
Boston Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.
Boston Children's Hospital, Emergency Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


In this commentary, we consider the relationship between early outbreak changes in the observed reproductive number of Ebola in West Africa and various media reported interventions and aggravating events. We find that media reports of interventions that provided education, minimized contact, or strengthened healthcare were typically followed by sustained transmission reductions in both Sierra Leone and Liberia. Meanwhile, media reports of aggravating events generally preceded temporary transmission increases in both countries. Given these preliminary findings, we conclude that media reported events could potentially be incorporated into future epidemic modeling efforts to improve mid-outbreak case projections.


Liberia; Sierra Leone; ebola; interventions; media; reproductive number

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