Forecasting and control policy assessment for the Ebola virus disease (EVD) epidemic in Sierra Leone using small-world networked model simulations

Constantinos I. Siettos, Cleo Anastassopoulou, Lucia Russo, Christos Grigoras, Eleftherios Mylonakis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Objectives: As the Ebola virus disease is still sustained in Sierra Leone, we analysed the epidemic for a recent period (21 December 2014 to 17 April 2015) using a small-world networked model and forecasted its evolution. Policy-control scenarios for the containment of the epidemic were also examined. Methods: We developed an agent-based model with 6 million individuals (the population of Sierra Leone) interacting through a small-world social network. The model incorporates the main epidemiological factors, including the effect of burial practices to virus transmission. The effective reproductive number (Re) was evaluated directly from the agent-based simulations. Estimates of the epidemiological variables were computed on the basis of the official cases as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Results: From 21 December 2014 to 18 February 2015 the epidemic was in recession compared with previous months, as indicated by the estimated Re of ∼0.77 (95% CI 0.72 to 0.82). From 18 February to 17 April 2015, the Re rose above criticality (∼1.98, 95% CI 1.33 to 2.22), flashing a note of caution for the situation. By projecting in time, we predicted that the epidemic would continue through July 2015. Our predictions were close to the cases reported by CDC by the end of June, verifying the criticality of the situation. In light of these developments, while revising our manuscript, we expanded our analysis to include the most recent data (until 15 August 2015). By mid-August, Re had fallen below criticality and the epidemic was expected to fade out by early December 2015. Conclusions: Our results call for the continuation of drastic control measures, which in the absence of an effective vaccine or therapy at present can only translate to isolation of the infected section of the population, to contain the epidemic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere008649
JournalBMJ open
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Forecasting and control policy assessment for the Ebola virus disease (EVD) epidemic in Sierra Leone using small-world networked model simulations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this