Sam Scarpino (Santa Fe Institute)
Abstract. The current Ebola outbreak is robustly expanding in West African populations. To better characterize the fundamental epidemiology of this pathogen, we applied three cutting-edge statistical approaches to genetic and epidemiological data from Sierra Leone. These three approaches produced consistent estimates of key epidemiological parameters, demonstrating that the current outbreak has a moderate basic reproductive number within the range of previous outbreaks, transmission is clustered in both space and time, and the distribution of time between cases is critical to determining effective interventions. The moderate reproductive numbers we estimate implies that public health measures alone might be sufficient to reverse the spread of Ebola. However, the clustered structure of transmission and potential existence of asymptomatic transmission indicate that the outbreak may have significant resilience, and that successful application of these interventions may require extensive engagement and persistent provision of medical technology and resources from national and international organizations.