Tuesday, 31 March 2015

The weakening pulse of the Ebola monster...

As of this post, some of the most comprehensive publicly available data on an emerging virus is coming out of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in relation to the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). Yeah-that's what I said. Even with all the issues I complain about, its more detailed than for other current outbreaks. 

In 2015, China became a major disappointment in its poor publication of data for the avian influenza A(H7N9) virus's 3rd outbreak - choosing to release bulk updates and little to no detail on who, where or when. 

The continuing avian influenza A(H5N1) virus outbreak in Egypt is also a mystery to all but a very few. Something that is a concern I think, for a much larger number.

Data from the Ebola virus hotzone countries in western Africa has also had many ups and downs. This is not at all surprising given the conditions, the extent of mobile communications, the history of the region, the political and social issues, the poor health infrastructure and the speed with which Ebola virus disease (EVD) spread through Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in 2014. Many different patterns have emerged over the past year among these numbers. 

One pattern is the "heartbeat" of EVD cases - the difference in number between update and summary tallies - seen when plotting the data reported by the World Health Organization.


Click on image to enlarge.
The peaks (Wednesdays and Mondays) and troughs in this chart both hide and reveal all sorts of tales. Principal among these is that the pulse is slowing. The life of the EVD epidemic monster is steadily draining away as the courageous aid workers in western Africa, those from within and from outside each afflicted nation, track the monster to its every hideout and starve it of its avenues for escape and further spread. 

It is perhaps the slowest and most painstaking of the phases of this epidemic, but the process still moves forward towards the goal of zero cases and the complete eradication of these particular variants of Zaire ebolavirus, from the planet.