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Modeling of the Deaths Due to Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak in Western Africa
Pages 306-321
Robert J. Milletich, Norou Diawara and Anna Jeng
Published: 03 November 2015

Abstract: Problem: The recent 2014 Ebola virus outbreak in Western Africa is the worst in history. It is imperative that appropriate statistical and mathematical models are used to identify risk factors and to monitor the development and spread of the disease.

Method: Deaths data due to Ebola virus disease (EVD) in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone from October 10, 2014 to March 24, 2015 were collected via Situation Reports published by the World Health Organization [1]. Conditional autoregressive (CAR) models were applied to account for the spatial dependency in the countries along with the temporal dimension of the disease. Bayesian change-point models were used to identify key changes in growth and drop time points in the spatial distribution of deaths due to EVD within each country. Country-specific Poisson and negative binomial mixed models of covariate effects were applied to understand the between-country variability in deaths due to EVD.

Results: Both CAR models and generalized linear mixed models identified statistically significant covariate effects; however, the CAR models depended on the interval of data analyzed, whereas the mixed models depended on the underlying distribution assumed. Bayesian change-point models identified one significant change-point in the distribution of deaths due to EVD within each country.

Practical Application: CAR models, Bayesian change-point models, and generalized linear mixed models demonstrate useful techniques in modeling the incidence of deaths due to EVD.

Keywords: Ebola Virus Disease, Conditional Autoregressive Model, Bayesian Analysis, Change-Point Model.
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