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CDC uses software to find people exposed to Ebola fever

For the first time, Ebola hemorrhagic fever outbreak disease detectives working on the outbreak in Guinea and Liberia are using a new software tool to help find people exposed to the deadly virus.

By Alex Cukan
CDC uses software to find people exposed to Ebola fever
Field workers in Uganda test Ebola virus samples. Photo by Justin Williams

ATLANTA, April 29 (UPI) -- For the first time, Ebola hemorrhagic fever outbreak disease detectives working on the outbreak in Guinea and Liberia are using a new software tool to help find people exposed to the deadly virus.

Disease detectives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta are using software developed at the CDC to find everyone exposed to, and possibly infected by, the contagious disease. The software makes contact tracing, the identification and diagnosis of persons who may have come into contact with an infected person, faster and easier.

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In addition, the tool assists with the collection and management of epidemiologic, clinical and laboratory information for every case -- data needed for outbreak countermeasures.

The Epi Info viral hemorrhagic fever application is specifically designed for outbreaks of viral hemorrhagic fevers such as Ebola, Marburg, Rift Valley, Lassa and Crimean-Congo.

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The CDC has made this software platform freely available. It features virus transmission diagrams that help field workers visualize outbreak spread between people and automated tools that speed contact tracing and data analysis.

“With a disease as often fatal as Ebola, quickly identifying and following up with those who may have been exposed is key to saving lives and containing the outbreak,” Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, said in a statement. “Epi Info, the ‘Swiss Army knife’ of field-deployed epidemiologists, can now help to track disease more quickly.”

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The Guinea Ministry of Health reported a total of 208 suspected and confirmed cases of Ebola hemorrhagic fever, including 136 deaths in six districts. Of these cases, 112 in Guinea were confirmed by laboratory testing, the CDC said.

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