Geographic potential of disease caused by Ebola and Marburg viruses in Africa

Peterson, A Townsend ; Samy, Abdallah M 


Filoviruses represent a significant public health threat worldwide. West Africa recently experienced the largest-scale and most complex filovirus outbreak yet known, which underlines the need for a predictive understanding of the geographic distribution and potential for transmission to humans of these viruses. Here, we used ecological niche modeling techniques to understand the relationship between known filovirus occurrences and environmental characteristics. Our study derived a picture of the potential transmission geography of Ebola virus species and Marburg, paired with views of the spatial uncertainty associated with model-to-model variation in our predictions. We found that filovirus species have diverged ecologically, but only three species are sufficiently well known that models could be developed with significant predictive power. We quantified uncertainty in predictions, assessed potential for outbreaks outside of known transmission areas, and highlighted the Ethiopian Highlands and scattered areas across East Africa as additional potentially unrecognized transmission areas.

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Issue Date Oct-2016
Journal Acta tropica 
DOI 114-24

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