The 2014–2016 West Africa Ebola virus epidemic overwhelmed the health systems of the 3 most affected countries. Currently, the most common laboratory test to identify EVD relies on a reverse transcription PCR, which is not a rapid point-of-care (POC) test. Researchers hypothesized that calculated risk scores could support separating triaged patients on the basis of the likelihood of being positive, and therefore, potentially slowing the spread of disease.
In a retrospective cohort study, patient data from the Kerry Town Ebola treatment centre in Sierra Leone was extracted from 252 Ebola-positive and 172 Ebola-negative patients to develop easy-to-use risk scores, based on symptoms and laboratory tests. Headache, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, nausea/vomiting, loss of appetite, and conjunctivitis comprised the symptom-based score. The laboratory-based score also included creatinine, creatine kinase, alanine aminotransferase, and total bilirubin. The risk score correctly identified 92% of Ebola-positive patients as high risk for infection; both scores correctly classified >70% of Ebola-negative patients as low or medium risk.