Virus genomes reveal factors that spread and sustained the Ebola epidemic

Gytis Dudas, Luiz Max Carvalho, Trevor Bedford, Andrew J. Tatem, Guy Baele, Nuno R. Faria, Daniel J. Park, Jason T. Ladner, Armando Arias, Danny Asogun, Filip Bielejec, Sarah L. Caddy, Matthew Cotten, Jonathan D'Ambrozio, Simon Dellicour, Antonino Di Caro, Joseph W. Diclaro, Sophie Duraffour, Michael J. Elmore, Lawrence S. FakoliOusmane Faye, Merle L. Gilbert, Sahr M. Gevao, Stephen Gire, Adrianne Gladden-Young, Andreas Gnirke, Augustine Goba, Donald S. Grant, Bart L. Haagmans, Julian A. Hiscox, Umaru Jah, Jeffrey R. Kugelman, Di Liu, Jia Lu, Christine M. Malboeuf, Suzanne Mate, David A. Matthews, Christian B. Matranga, Luke W. Meredith, James Qu, Joshua Quick, Suzan D. Pas, My V.T. Phan, Georgios Pollakis, Chantal B. Reusken, Mariano Sanchez-Lockhart, Stephen F. Schaffner, John S. Schieffelin, Rachel S. Sealfon, Etienne Simon-Loriere, Saskia L. Smits, Kilian Stoecker, Lucy Thorne, Ekaete Alice Tobin, Mohamed A. Vandi, Simon J. Watson, Kendra West, Shannon Whitmer, Michael R. Wiley, Sarah M. Winnicki, Shirlee Wohl, Roman Wölfel, Nathan L. Yozwiak, Kristian G. Andersen, Sylvia O. Blyden, Fatorma Bolay, Miles W. Carroll, Bernice Dahn, Boubacar Diallo, Pierre Formenty, Christophe Fraser, George F. Gao, Robert F. Garry, Ian Goodfellow, Stephan Günther, Christian T. Happi, Edward C. Holmes, Brima Kargbo, Sakoba Keïta, Paul Kellam, Marion P.G. Koopmans, Jens H. Kuhn, Nicholas J. Loman, N'Faly Magassouba, Dhamari Naidoo, Stuart T. Nichol, Tolbert Nyenswah, Gustavo Palacios, Oliver G. Pybus, Pardis C. Sabeti, Amadou Sall, Ute Ströher, Isatta Wurie, Marc A. Suchard, Philippe Lemey, Andrew Rambaut

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

266 Scopus citations


The 2013-2016 West African epidemic caused by the Ebola virus was of unprecedented magnitude, duration and impact. Here we reconstruct the dispersal, proliferation and decline of Ebola virus throughout the region by analysing 1,610 Ebola virus genomes, which represent over 5% of the known cases. We test the association of geography, climate and demography with viral movement among administrative regions, inferring a classic 'gravity' model, with intense dispersal between larger and closer populations. Despite attenuation of international dispersal after border closures, cross-border transmission had already sown the seeds for an international epidemic, rendering these measures ineffective at curbing the epidemic. We address why the epidemic did not spread into neighbouring countries, showing that these countries were susceptible to substantial outbreaks but at lower risk of introductions. Finally, we reveal that this large epidemic was a heterogeneous and spatially dissociated collection of transmission clusters of varying size, duration and connectivity. These insights will help to inform interventions in future epidemics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)309-315
Number of pages7
Issue number7650
StatePublished - Apr 20 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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