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"Superspreaders" Fueled Ebola Epidemic

2/16/17 8:47 AM

It's been almost three years since the Ebola outbreak began in West Africa, now scientists say they know who is responsible for transmitting the virus that killed around 11,300 people. According to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published this week, nearly 61% of the cases were caused by 3% of infected people, known as superspreaders.

Superspreading is an important phenomenon in disease transmission and has been implicated in other outbreaks like severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003 and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) in 2012. So who are those superspreaders? Scientists say children under the age of 15 and adults over 45 years old.

In order to pinpoint the portion of cases caused by the superspreaders in West Africa, scientists used a mathematical model to reconstruct the transmission pattern. They found the superspreaders were based in the community rather than health care facilities, where many of the first patients were being treated.

Researchers say it was a vicious cycle of adults caring for children, who were then put in charge of organizing large funerals for the victims. Since Ebola spreads primarily through bodily fluids, the virus most likely spread to the caregivers who were washing and touching the infected while caring for them or during funeral preparations.

This post-analysis of the Ebola epidemic is crucial to helping scientists and healthcare officials worldwide understand superspreading scenarios, which can help tailor better methods to controlling future outbreaks. Back in December, an Ebola vaccine was shown to provide 100% protection against the virus, but has not yet been approved by any regulatory authority.

Vaccines are a key component to preventing and containing diseases, but must be properly handled to preserve its integrity. To comply with CDC guidelines, MadgeTech offers the Vaccine Temperature Monitoring System to ensure the correct temperature requirements are maintained. To view all of the data loggers for medical and pharmaceutical applications, click here.

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