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Introduction of Ebola virus into a remote border district of Sierra Leone, 2014: use of field epidemiology and RNA sequencing to describe chains of transmission

  • M. B. DeSilva (a1), T. Styles (a1), C. Basler (a1), F. L. Moses (a2), F. Husain (a1), M. Reichler (a1), S. Whitmer (a1), J. McAuley (a1), E. Belay (a1), M. Friedman (a1), I. S. Muoghalu (a3), P. Swaray (a3), U. Ströher (a1) and J. T. Redd (a1)...

Abstract

In early October 2014, 7 months after the 2014–2015 Ebola epidemic in West Africa began, a cluster of reported deaths in Koinadugu, a remote district of Sierra Leone, was the first evidence of Ebola virus disease (Ebola) in the district. Prior to this event, geographic isolation was thought to have prevented the introduction of Ebola to this area. We describe our initial investigation of this cluster of deaths and subsequent public health actions after Ebola was confirmed, and present challenges to our investigation and methods of overcoming them. We present a transmission tree and results of whole genome sequencing of selected isolates to identify the source of infection in Koinadugu and demonstrate transmission between its villages. Koinadugu's experience highlights the danger of assuming that remote location and geographic isolation can prevent the spread of Ebola, but also demonstrates how deployment of rapid field response teams can help limit spread once Ebola is detected.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: M.B. Desilva, E-mail: malini.b.desilva@healthpartners.com

References

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