Development and Assessment of Community Event–Based Surveillance for Ebola Virus Disease

In 2015, community event–based surveillance (CEBS) was implemented in Sierra Leone to assist with the detection of Ebola virus disease (EVD) cases. We assessed the sensitivity of CEBS for finding EVD cases during a 7-month period, and in a 6-week subanalysis, we assessed the timeliness of reporting cases with no known epidemiologic links at time of detection. Of the 12,126 CEBS reports, 287 (2%) met the suspected case definition, and 16 were confirmed positive. CEBS detected 30% (16/53) of the EVD cases identified during the study period. During the subanalysis, CEBS staff identified 4 of 6 cases with no epidemiologic links. These CEBS-detected cases were identified more rapidly than those detected by the national surveillance system; however, too few cases were detected to determine system timeliness. Although CEBS detected EVD cases, it largely generated false alerts. Future versions of community-based surveillance could improve case detection through increased staff training and community engagement.

The Airbel Impact Lab at IRC is a team of researchers, strategists and innovators committed to the accelerated design, rigorous evaluation and cost-effective scaling of the most impactful solutions supporting people affected by crisis.