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.
Since Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) was first identified in 1976 in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo, and despite the numerous outbreaks recorded to date, rarely has an epidemic origin been identified. Indeed, among the twenty-one most documented EVD outbreaks in Africa, an index case has been identified four times, and hypothesized in only two other instances. The initial steps of emergence and spread of a virus are critical in the development of a potential outbreak and need to be thoroughly dissected and understood in order to improve on preventative strategies. In the current West African outbreak of EVD, a unique index case has been identified, pinpointing the geographical origin of the epidemic in Guinea. Herein, we provide an accounting of events that serve as the footprint of EVD emergence in Sierra Leone and a road map for risk mitigation fueled by lessons learned.
The magnitude of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is unprecedented. Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone are in the bottom ten countries in the Human Development Index, but all had made gains in child survival prior to the outbreak. With closure of healthcare facilities and the loss of health workers secondary to the outbreak, the region risks reversing survival gains achieved in maternal and newborn health.
Anonymized service utilization data were downloaded from the Liberia District Health Information Software (DHIS) 2 for selected maternal health services at PHC facilities in Margibi and Bong Counties from March 2014, when the first case of Ebola was reported in Liberia, through December 2014. Absolute numbers are provided instead of percentage measures because of the lack of a population-based denominator.
Overall, the data show a decrease in absolute utilization from the start of the outbreak, followed by a slow recovery after October or November. In Bong County, totals were less than 14% of the peak numbers during the outbreak for number of antenatal visits and pregnant women receiving intermittent preventive treatment for malaria in pregnancy (IPTp). For total deliveries, utilization was less than 33% of the highest month. In Margibi County, during what now appears to be the height of the outbreak, numbers dropped to less than 9% of peak utilization for antenatal care visits and 4% for IPTp. Total health facility deliveries dropped to less than 9% of peak utilization.
It is clear that Bong and Margibi Counties in Liberia experienced a large drop in utilization of maternal health care services during what now appears to be the peak of the Ebola outbreak. As the health of women and their babies is being promoted in the post-2015 sustainable development agenda, it is critical that the issue of maternal and newborn survival in humanitarian emergency settings, like the Ebola outbreak, is prioritized.
Influenza A viruses in swine cause considerable economic losses and raise concerns about their zoonotic potential. The current paucity of thorough empirical assessments of influenza A virus infection levels in swine herds under different control interventions hinders our understanding of their effectiveness. Between 2012 and 2013, recurrent outbreaks of respiratory disease caused by a reassortant pandemic 2009 H1N1 (H1N1pdm) virus were registered in a swine breeding farm in North-East Italy, providing the opportunity to assess an outbreak response plan based on vaccination and enhanced farm management. All sows/gilts were vaccinated with a H1N1pdm-specific vaccine, biosecurity was enhanced, weaning cycles were lengthened, and cross-fostering of piglets was banned. All tested piglets had maternally-derived antibodies at 30 days of age and were detectable in 5.3% of ~90 day-old piglets. There was a significant reduction in H1N1pdm RT-PCR detections after the intervention. Although our study could not fully determine the extent to which the observed trends in seropositivity or RT-PCR positivity among piglets were due to the intervention or to the natural course of the disease in the herd, we provided suggestive evidence that the applied measures were useful in controlling the outbreak, even without an all-in/all-out system, while keeping farm productivity at full.
Background: The first ever outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in Nigeria was declared in July, 2014. Level of public knowledge, perception and adequacy of information on EVD were unknown. We assessed the public preparedness level to adopt disease preventive behavior which is premised on appropriate knowledge, perception and adequate information.
Methods: We enrolled 5,322 respondents in a community-based cross-sectional study. We used interviewer-administered questionnaire to collect data on socio-demographic characteristics, EVD–related knowledge, perception and source of information. We performed univariate and bivariate data analysis using Epi-Info software setting p-value of 0.05 as cut-off for statistical significance.
Results: Mean age of respondents was 34 years (± 11.4 years), 52.3% were males. Forty one percent possessed satisfactory general knowledge; 44% and 43.1% possessed satisfactory knowledge on mode of spread and preventive measures, respectively. Residing in EVD cases districts, male respondents and possessing at least secondary education were positively associated with satisfactory general knowledge (p-value: 0.01, 0.001 and 0.000004, respectively). Seventy one percent perceived EVD as a public health problem while 61% believed they cannot contract the disease. Sixty two percent and 64% of respondents will not shake hands and hug a successfully treated EVD patient respectively. Only 2.2% of respondents practice good hand-washing practice. Television (68.8%) and radio (55.0%) are the most common sources of information on EVD.
Conclusions: Gaps in EVD-related knowledge and perception exist. Targeted public health messages to raise knowledge level, correct misconception and discourage stigmatization should be widely disseminated, with television and radio as media of choice.
We developed an agent-based model to investigate the epidemic dynamics of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in Liberia and Sierra Leone from May 27 to December 21, 2014. The dynamics of the agent-based simulator evolve on small-world transmission networks of sizes equal to the population of each country, with adjustable densities to account for the effects of public health intervention policies and individual behavioral responses to the evolving epidemic. Based on time series of the official case counts from the World Health Organization (WHO), we provide estimates for key epidemiological variables by employing the so-called Equation-Free approach. The underlying transmission networks were characterized by rather random structures in the two countries with densities decreasing by ~19% from the early (May 27-early August) to the last period (mid October-December 21). Our estimates for the values of key epidemiological variables, such as the mean time to death, recovery and the case fatality rate, are very close to the ones reported by the WHO Ebola response team during the early period of the epidemic (until September 14) that were calculated based on clinical data. Specifically, regarding the effective reproductive number Re, our analysis suggests that until mid October, Re was above 2.3 in both countries; from mid October to December 21, Re dropped well below unity in Liberia, indicating a saturation of the epidemic, while in Sierra Leone it was around 1.9, indicating an ongoing epidemic. Accordingly, a ten-week projection from December 21 estimated that the epidemic will fade out in Liberia in early March; in contrast, our results flashed a note of caution for Sierra Leone since the cumulative number of cases could reach as high as 18,000, and the number of deaths might exceed 5,000, by early March 2015. However, by processing the reported data of the very last period (December 21, 2014-January 18, 2015), we obtained more optimistic estimates indicative of a remission of the epidemic in Sierra Leone, as reflected by the derived Re (~0.82, 95% CI: 0.81-0.83).
Related Articles The article is part of the PLOS Currents Outbreaks “Vaccine Hesitancy Collection“. Editorial Based on recent trends, outbreaks of measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases could be more commonplace in the coming years, even in countries where such diseases have been considered eliminated or under control. In 2014, the United States reported over 600 […]
Vaccine hesitancy is often understood and explored on the level of individual decision-making. However, questions surrounding the risk and efficacy of vaccination are evident in wider public discourse; social narratives of vaccination inform and impact on the individual level. This paper takes a narrative analysis approach from the sociology of health to examine data drawn from a wider study on global public health responses to the H1N1 pandemic. The paper concentrates upon criticisms to mass vaccination as recounted within the Council of Europe’s debate of the handling of H1N1. It shows that three narratives were particularly dominant: problematizing the use of vaccination as a public health response; criticising the efficacy of the vaccines; and, questioning the safety of the strategy. This debate presents an important case study in understanding the way in which vaccines are problematized within the public discourse.
BACKGROUND: Improving influenza and tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine coverage among pregnant women is needed.
PURPOSE: To assess factors associated with intention to receive influenza and/or Tdap vaccinations during pregnancy with a focus on perceptions of influenza and pertussis disease severity and influenza vaccine safety.
METHODS: Participants were 325 pregnant women in Georgia recruited from December 2012 – April 2013 who had not yet received a 2012/2013 influenza vaccine or a Tdap vaccine while pregnant. Women completed a survey assessing influenza vaccination history, likelihood of receiving antenatal influenza and/or Tdap vaccines, and knowledge, attitudes and beliefs about influenza, pertussis, and their associated vaccines.
RESULTS: Seventy-three percent and 81% of women believed influenza and pertussis, respectively, would be serious during pregnancy while 87% and 92% believed influenza and pertussis, respectively, would be serious to their infants. Perception of pertussis severity for their infant was strongly associated with an intention to receive a Tdap vaccine before delivery (p=0.004). Despite perceptions of disease severity for themselves and their infants, only 34% and 44% intended to receive antenatal influenza and Tdap vaccines, respectively. Forty-six percent had low perceptions of safety regarding the influenza vaccine during pregnancy, and compared to women who perceived the influenza vaccine as safe, women who perceived the vaccine as unsafe were less likely to intend to receive antenatal influenza (48% vs. 20%; p
The introduction of measles vaccination into routine childhood vaccination programmes has led to a shift of disease burden and incidence among young adults. This was confirmed by the recent rise in measles cases and outbreaks throughout Europe. To prevent outbreaks and eliminate measles, one of the key objectives of the WHO Europe measles elimination framework is achieving overall vaccination coverage of ≥95% in the population on a district level.
In the absence of national registers, data on vaccination coverage in Germany is recorded at the age of school entry, through insurance refund claim data and population studies. Vaccination status (VS) of young adults is largely unknown.
We assessed measles vaccination coverage in young adults aged 20-34 years on a district level of the German Federal State of Rhineland-Palatinate. The knowledge and attitude towards immunization of unvaccinated to vaccinated young adults were compared using Likert questions. We used proportional allocation for stratified random sampling across 36 counties. We mailed a self-administered questionnaire with pre-paid return envelopes along with an offer to complete online. Prior to calculating coverage we tested for non-responder bias using logistic regression.
465 (28%) of 1,637 persons contacted responded (mail: 23%, online: 5%). More women responded than men (odds ratio (OR)=2.1; 95% confidence intervall (CI)=1.7-2.6) but age did not vary between responders and non-responders. Vaccination coverage was 90% (95%CI=87%-93%) for one and 56% (95%CI=51%-61%) for two doses. We found a statistically significant association between receiving two doses and age group. The 20-24 years age group had a 2.3 higher incidence rate ratio (95%CI=1.7-3.2) than the reference group of 30-34 year old to have received two doses of measles vaccination. The group of 25-29 year old had a 1.5 higher incidence rate (95%CI=1.0-2.1) than the reference group to have received two doses of measles vaccination.
Coverage has failed to reach the WHO Europe elimination goal of 95% measles vaccination in the general population. Targeted approaches including enlistment of occupational health services and checking vaccination status during general practitioner (GP) visits are needed to increase vaccination uptake in this age group in order to achieve measles elimination.