If this case is indeed Ebola, it will be the first recorded instance that an outbreak has managed to travel out of Africa and into North America. This all said, all we know for sure – based off of reports from the Guinean government – is that there have been 87 cases and 61 deaths in Guinea thus far (CFR: 70%). [Of course, the numbers currently cited by the WHO are lower – citing 49 cases and 29 deaths (CFR: 59%).] With this in mind, and the potential Canadian case awaiting definite diagnosis, I’ve seen a lot of concern on social media outlets – usually getting at one fundamental question:
Will Ebolavirus spread to my home country?
While Ebola is exceptionally rare, the fact that it’s erupting in West Africa changes our own chances of contracting the disease. Moreover, it’s uncertain how far the virus has managed to spread outside of Guinea – and perhaps the West African region – already. What we do know is that it’s both highly contagious and can exhibit long incubation periods, making it a prime candidate for contagion. At its very core, this question sits in the space between the globalization of disease, infectious disease epidemiology, and conditional probability. In my next blog post, I’ll try to address this problem by using crude human mobility analytics as well as an approximation of Bayes’ Theory.