Estimating Risk of Introduction of Ebola Virus Disease from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Tanzania: A Qualitative Assessment

Authors: Sima Rugarabamu, Janeth George, Kennedy M. Mbanzulu, Gaspary O. Mwanyika, Gerald Misinzo and Leonard E. G. Mboera


Between April 2018 and November 2020, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) experienced its 11th Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak. Tanzania’s cross-border interactions with DRC through regular visitors, traders, and refugees are of concern, given the potential for further spread to neighboring countries. This study aimed to estimate the risk of introducing EVD to Tanzania from DRC. National data for flights, boats, and car transport schedules from DRC to Tanzania covering the period of May 2018 to June 2019 were analyzed to describe population movement via land, port, and air travel and coupled with available surveillance data to model the risk of EVD entry. The land border crossing was considered the most frequently used means of travel and the most likely pathway of introducing EVD from DRC to Tanzania. High probabilities of introducing EVD from DRC to Tanzania through the assessed pathways were associated with the viability of the pathogen and low detection capacity at the ports of entry. This study provides important information regarding the elements contributing to the risk associated with the introduction of EBV in Tanzania. It also indicates that infected humans arriving via land are the most likely pathway of EBV entry, and therefore, mitigation strategies including land border surveillance should be strengthened.
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