Small percentage of patients found responsible for spreading lethal Ebola epidemic

Small percentage of patients found responsible for spreading lethal Ebola epidemic

A small percentage of so-called “superspreaders” was likely responsible for spreading the lethal Ebola epidemic that left thousands of people dead in West Africa, according to a new study.

A team of experts from New Jersey’s Princeton University and the Oregon State University estimated that merely 3 per cent of people infected with the Ebola virus were the source for more than 61 per cent of all cases of the deadly disease in Western African countries.

The researchers used a mathematical model, went back to graves and analyzed nearly 200 burials in and around Sierra Leone’s national capital Freetown to reach the conclusion.

Co-author Benjamin Dalziel, an assistant professor of population biology at OSU’s College of Science, said, “In the recent Ebola outbreak it's now clear that superspreaders were an important component in driving the epidemic.”

As per the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 28,000 people were infected by the Ebola virus between October 2014 and March 2015. The infection killed more than 11,000 patients and left many others struggling to survive.

The researchers reported their findings in the most recent edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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