Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

The unprecedented scale of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has, as of 29 April 2015, resulted in more than 10,884 deaths among 26,277 cases. Prior to the ongoing outbreak, Ebola virus disease (EVD) caused relatively small outbreaks (maximum outbreak size 425 in Gulu, Uganda) in isolated populations in central Africa. Here, we have compiled a comprehensive database of estimates of epidemiological parameters based on data from past outbreaks, including the incubation period distribution, case fatality rate, basic reproduction number (R 0 ), effective reproduction number (R t ) and delay distributions. We have compared these to parameter estimates from the ongoing outbreak in West Africa. The ongoing outbreak, because of its size, provides a unique opportunity to better understand transmission patterns of EVD. We have not performed a meta-analysis of the data, but rather summarize the estimates by virus from comprehensive investigations of EVD and Marburg outbreaks over the past 40 years. These estimates can be used to parameterize transmission models to improve understanding of initial spread of EVD outbreaks and to inform surveillance and control guidelines.

Original publication




Journal article


Scientific data

Publication Date





MRC Centre for Outbreak Analysis and Modelling, Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Imperial College London , London W2 1PG, UK ; Center for Global Health, Institut Pasteur , Paris 75015, France.


Humans, Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola, Disease Outbreaks, Communicable Disease Control, Models, Theoretical, Africa, Central, Africa, Western, Basic Reproduction Number, Ebolavirus