Discipline: Science and Mathematics Education
Subcategory: Mathematics and Statistics
Ebony Albritton - Virginia State University
Co-Author(s): Brandi Massey
Ebola haemorrhagic fever (EHF) is a fatally infectious disease marked by fever and severe internal bleeding, which is believed to be originated from fruit bats and primates. The Ebola infection can be acquired in multiple ways, such as the direct contact with an infectious person body fluids, direct contact with patients during a visit at the hospital, and performing traditional burial ceremonies. Even though Ebola is highly infectious, it is rare to become infected with Ebola during the incubation stage. However, the transmissibility increases with the duration of the disease and with direct contact with infected individuals during the late stage of illness. Which means that the longer a person is infected the more contagious they become. Ebola was initially identified in a region within the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since its discovery in 1976, there have been 26 different epidemics confirmed, with the majority of them being located in the West African Region. During the 2014 outbreaks, Ebola started spreading due to the citizens of infected regions transporting to different parts of the world causing it to become a global health scare. But in this study, we only concentrate on the outbreak of Sierra Leone and our study can be easily to be extended to other countries. We collect data about the Ebola spread in Sierra Leone from the Situation Reports provided by WHO (World Health Organization) for the duration of 36 weeks. In those reports, the amount of confirmed Ebola case per week was provided between dates of Sept 22, 2014 to May 26, 2015 (when we conducted our research). The reports do not start from the beginning of the epidemic, but we decided to use the data in the Situation Reports rather than those in the Patient Database to simulate our model better guarantee accuracy of the amount of Ebola cases. In this research, we compiled information provided by the World Health Organization and studied the advancing Ebola outbreak occurring in Sierra Leone. The purpose of this study is to understand a growth of an epidemic and eventually be able to predict the outcome and end of an outbreak. We choose the SEIR differential equations to model the epidemic transmission stages. The least square method is used to fit the data and a Matlab optimization package is used to estimate the parameters of the model. Using these estimations, we are able to produce the reproduction number which gives perception of how the epidemic was growing. In order to do so, we produced the reproduction number. Afterwards, we conducted a multivariate sensitive analysis of the parameters. Which allowed us to further understand the epidemic as well as make educated predictions on the outbreak. Finally, we predicted exactly when Sierra Leone will be Ebola free. After conducting this study, we plan to do a comparison study by applying our research approach to other counties and find out what are the most relevant factors of mitigating the spread of Ebola.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): This research is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) through the HBCU-UP Program. Without the assistance from Dr. Dawit Haile and Dr. Zhifu Xie, this research wouldn’t be possible. We would like to extend our thanks for their support and guidance throughout this research experience. We also would like to thank Virginia State University for allowing us to use their facilities to conduct our research.
Faculty Advisor: Zhifu Xie,