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Australia’s Ebola Risk

Credit: CDC/Cynthia Goldsmith

Credit: CDC/Cynthia Goldsmith

By Robert Cope, Joshua Ross & Phillip Cassey

Improving outbreak control in West Africa resulted in reduced risk to Australia.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

In March 2014, the World Health Organization declared an Ebola outbreak in Guinea, West Africa. The outbreak gained global media attention when healthcare workers from the US and UK were infected in August, and after infected individuals entered the US and Spain during October. These events stimulated much debate in Australia about the country’s response.

We decided to model the risk to Australia, and how the events in West Africa affected the chances of an Australian outbreak. We found that although an outbreak was unlikely, the best strategy for Australia was to support measures to assist healthcare in West Africa and contain the outbreak there rather than focusing on trying to restrict potential carriers from entering Australia.

This outbreak is thought to have begun with the death of a single young boy in a rural village in December 2013. The disease spread quickly to neighbouring Liberia and Sierra Leone, and by August 2014 there were about 200 new cases per week observed in the Liberian capital Monrovia alone. In total more than 20,000 reported cases had occurred by the end of 2014, primarily in West Africa.

Ebola is a devastating virus. Approximately 60% of hospitalised patients within West Africa have died. Control of the existing outbreak, and prevention of new outbreaks elsewhere, is of paramount concern.

Researchers have...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.