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Epidemiology News Briefs - May 31, 2017

New Method Said To Improve Outbreak Control

“The difference between the projections and the actual size of the 2014 Ebola outbreak caused intense public debate. But rather than focusing on how big the outbreak would be, our study focused on what to do to keep it small.” That is how Shou-Li Li, principal author of a recent report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences characterized the focus of his study using a method from economics and wildlife management called “value of information” analysis. With that technique they reviewed 37 models of Ebola outbreak dynamics and found that these models consistently rated reducing transmission rates at public funerals and in the community as the two most important control strategies. According to Shou-Li, the method helps identify “…the best course of action, given what we know now, and highlights the gaps in our knowledge that actually matter to the selection of intervention strategies.”  The method potentially can be used in real time with  fast-moving disease threats in other non-Ebola situations to make decisions with imperfect or incomplete information. The authors were able to estimate that the use of their method could have created a reduction of 3266 cases and saved 1633 lives.

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