Study: Ebola Coming to America?



A new study in the journal PLoS Currents Outbreaks calculates that there is an 18 percent chance that a case of Ebola will arrive in the United States by the end of this month. The researchers inputed airline travel data and various outbreak scenarios into a computer model to come up with probabilty figures for the arrival of Ebola in 16 different countries. Is it time to panic? Absolutely not. The researchers also report that the likelihood that the disease would spread extensively in developed countries is tiny:

We observe that the expected value of the cluster size in the case of international spread is always rather small (in all countries mean<6; median<4). Large outbreak involving more than 10 individuals although potentially possible can be considered as very rare events (Detailed statistics per country are available upon request). This numerical evidence is good news, as it points out that effective management and isolation of cases is keeping the number of EVD (Ebola) cases to deal with to a very limited number, lowering the risk of losing control of the outbreak.

In other words, the number of people likely to be infected through contact with a person bringing Ebola to our shores maxes out at around 10 individuals.

For those wanting more reassurance, take a look at my article, "Ebola: 'Dress Rehearsal' or Show Closer?"