Even in the middle of an epidemic of a very serious illness, outbreaks of other infectious diseases will continue. Clinicians need to be able to make rapid decisions about the nature of the outbreak and how to manage it. A balance needs to be struck between managing all patients as if they have the worst-case scenario illness and the resultant risks to themselves, their colleagues and the mission. This paper reviews basic epidemiological tools that inform robust decision-making in the management of such outbreaks. It then describes how a pragmatic approach, combined with effective use of these techniques, rapid diagnostics and remote specialist support, allowed a large outbreak of gastroenteritis to be safely and effectively managed during the response to the Ebola virus disease epidemic in Sierra Leone.
- INFECTIOUS DISEASES
- PUBLIC HEALTH
- Received July 12, 2016.
- Revision received September 13, 2016.
- Accepted October 2, 2016.
- Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. For permission to use (where not already granted under a licence) please go to http://www.bmj.com/company/products-services/rights-and-licensing/
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Contributors KF, SH and JT were involved in the management of the outbreak. DB provided the interpretation of the microbiological analysis and all information about PCR testing. KF provided the figures. SH and JT were the primary authors.
Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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