Containing the Spread of the Ebola Virus
School: Monte del Sol
Area of Science: Epidemiology
Interim: Project Description
In recent months, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has taken several thousand lives and continues to spread. The hyper lethality and rapid infection rate of this virus makes it a threat to the entire world. Rather than try to cure Ebola we have decided to instead focus on containing the virus to prevent a widespread outbreak. We believe the best way to do this is to isolate infected individuals, thereby preventing the virus from spreading to a new host. If no new hosts are available, the infection will run its course without further deaths.
We are modeling the spread of Ebola on a global scale. This model will include parts of CDC containment procedures and the functionality of them. It will also include global transport methods such as boats planes and trains. Each region in the model will simulate differing populations and development. There will be an ability to toggle different containment procedures to simulate their effect on the spread in the model. Combining this with spread data we hope to accurately simulate the spread of Ebola under these varying conditions.
Progress to Date
The current progress on the model has focused on gathering data and laying down the basework for the model in Python. We have gathered extensive sources of data for the model, such as number of infected and rate of death throughout infected countries. Basework for the model has been laid down to place maps and draw country borders and routes. A plan for the development of the model has been set, with development goals and milestones. Using what we have gathered, we plan to finish the cohesive model to simulate a global spread of Ebola.
We expect the model to show a threshold over which the virus has spread to too many individuals to contain. We will then take this data and make an informed suggestion to when countries should begin to enter containment protocols, as defined in our model. The model will also determine which of our containment methods is most effective at halting the spread of the virus. Hopefully, this will yield useful data that can help stop future outbreaks.
Centers for Disease Control. 2014. “Ebola Virus Disease Distribution Map’’ Availiable at http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/outbreaks/history/distribution-map.html
Centers for Disease Control. 2014. “Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever” Available at
Network Dynamics and Simulation Science Laboratory. 2014. “Information Resources for Ebola Epidemic Response.” Available at http://www.vbi.vt.edu/ebola.
Quartz. 2014. “We could’ve stopped Ebola if we listened to the data.” Available at http://qz.com/283206/we-couldve-stopped-ebola-if-wed-listened-to-the-data/
The New England Journal of Medicine. 2014 “Ebola Virus Disease in West Africa” Available at
World Health Organization. 2014. “Ebola virus disease” Available at
Sponsoring Teacher: Rhonda Ward
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