Bio-surveillance Algorithms Assignment

Bio-surveillance Algorithms
Bio-surveillance Algorithms

Bio-surveillance Algorithms

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Bio-surveillance Algorithms

Different diseases may share many of the same symptoms. Because diseases have a broad range of symptoms (many of which overlap), bio-surveillance algorithms must be constructed to identify those indicators that can (individually or in some combination) accurately discriminate the presence or absence of the condition of interest, properly monitor those indicators, and provide reliable output on each specific disease’s trends. Matching the process of analyzing the data with the necessary types of data is of utmost importance when trying to obtain an early identification of a health event with minimum false positives.

select an infectious disease or condition (not tuberculosis). Consider the best approach/algorithm to monitor the disease or condition you selected. Determine the number and type of covariates the algorithm should have.

describe the algorithm that you think would best monitor the disease/condition you selected. Explain which covariates you would include in the algorithm. Finally, explain the limitations of the algorithm and the implications for public health.


An Algorithm for Monitoring Ebola

Ebola is a disease that easily spreads between primates, human beings included, whenever uninfected individuals come into contact with body fluids of those infected. It is caused by the Ebola virus, whose natural carrier is the natural fruit bat. There has been no evidence of the occurrence of air transmissions of Ebola. Research shows that the virus kills an average of 50% of patients who contract it. Due to the resemblance of its symptoms to malaria, fever, cholera and many other diseases, there is need for a specific algorithm to help in the monitoring and treatment of Ebola.

Algorithm for Ebola

I will use three steps in the evaluation of the disease for the purpose of differentiating it from diseases such as malaria and typhoid. The first step entails carrying out a non-specific laboratory test. This form of testing includes counting the number of platelets, white blood cells and liver enzymes, alanine aminotransferase (Smith, 2006). The process also includes checking for any signs of blood clots.

The second step is carrying out a specific test. This involves separating the virus from others, checking its RNA and antibodies that fight the virus in the victim’s blood (Smith, 2006). In the initial stages of the disease, medical practitioners should isolate the virus using cell culture and the evaluation of the polymerase chain reaction of the virus. They can as well use the Elisa test in arriving at the same end. In later stages of the disease, checking for the presence of antibodies produced to counter the virus is the most reliable method for determining the presence of the virus in the human body. This method also works well when working with individuals who recover from the Ebola virus. Two types of antibodies are, usually, detected at different periods after the infection. Igm antibodies can be seen only two days after the first signs while IgG are visible after about one or two weeks (Smith, 2006). However, isolating the virus through the cell culture practice is not possible. Doctors prefer PCR and ELISA since they are the most sensitive methods. An electron microscope can help identify the viruses by exposing their filamentous nature while in the cell cultures. However, it is not possible to differentiate between the different types of the virus.

Thirdly, the differential diagnosis method will help identify Ebola identify as different from other types of viruses. This method requires a lot of time since it entails the analysis of all the diseases that have similar symptoms. Such diseases include malaria, dengue fever and Marburg virus diseases.

This algorithm should have two covariates: samples of fluids from a healthy person without antibodies against the virus and other samples from an individual suffering from malaria to compare their composition with that of the individuals suspected to be suffering from Ebola.

Limitations of this Algorithm

The third part of this algorithm is expensive, involving and time-wasting. It requires diagnosing all the diseases that exhibit symptoms similar to those of Ebola. Many victims may die while doctors are still carrying out the tests. Worse still, the second part of the algorithm takes long to give the results for the presence or absence of antibodies. The method can, therefore, not be relied on in critical circumstances. The disease might continue spreading to other regions as medical experts wait for the results of their experiments


Smith, T. (2006). Ebola. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers.

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