Phylodynamic analysis of ebola virus disease transmission in sierra leone

Petrus Jansen van Vuren, Jason T. Ladner, Antoinette A. Grobbelaar, Michael R. Wiley, Sean Lovett, Mushal Allam, Arshad Ismail, Chantel Le Roux, Jacqueline Weyer, Naazneen Moolla, Nadia Storm, Joe Kgaladi, Mariano Sanchez-Lockhart, Ousman Conteh, Gustavo Palacios, Janusz T. Paweska

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


We generated genome sequences from 218 cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in Sierra Leone (SLE) during 2014–2015 to complement available datasets, particularly by including cases from a period of low sequence coverage during peak transmission of Ebola virus (EBOV) in the highly-affected Western Area division of SLE. The combined dataset was utilized to produce phylogenetic and phylodynamic inferences, to study sink–source dynamics and virus dispersal from highly-populated transmission hotspots. We identified four districts in SLE where EBOV was introduced and transmission occurred without onward exportation to other districts. We also identified six districts that substantially contributed to the dispersal of the virus and prolonged the EVD outbreak: five of these served as major hubs, with lots of movement in and out, and one acted primarily as a source, exporting the virus to other areas of the country. Positive correlations between case numbers, inter-district transition events, and district population sizes reaffirm that population size was a driver of EBOV transmission dynamics in SLE. The data presented here confirm the role of urban hubs in virus dispersal and of a delayed laboratory response in the expansion and perpetuation of the EVD outbreak in SLE.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number71
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Ebola virus
  • Ebola virus disease
  • Filoviridae
  • Filovirus
  • Phylodynamics
  • Sierra Leone
  • West Africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology


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