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Retrospective Analysis of the 2014-2015 Ebola Epidemic in Liberia.

Abstract

The 2014-2015 Ebola epidemic has been the most protracted and devastating in the history of the disease. To prevent future outbreaks on this scale, it is imperative to understand the reasons that led to eventual disease control. Here, we evaluated the shifts of Ebola dynamics at national and local scales during the epidemic in Liberia. We used a transmission model calibrated to epidemiological data between June 9 and December 31, 2014, to estimate the extent of community and hospital transmission. We found that despite varied local epidemic patterns, community transmission was reduced by 40-80% in all the counties analyzed. Our model suggests that the tapering of the epidemic was achieved through reductions in community transmission, rather than accumulation of immune individuals through asymptomatic infection and unreported cases. Although the times at which this transmission reduction occurred in the majority of the Liberian counties started before any large expansion in hospital capacity and the distribution of home protection kits, it remains difficult to associate the presence of interventions with reductions in Ebola incidence.

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