This morning the World Health Organization released downloadable, machine-readable data (yay!) of the number of Ebola cases at the county level (available here). This release is particularly special, because it includes both the number of cases according to the situation reports and the counts as reported by the patient database. The patient database (also known as a line list) is usually considered the gold standard for outbreak data. Until this release, the public had no data from the database - the situation reports were the only resource.
The good news is that this data is immensely useful for epidemiologists, modelers, public health responders - pretty much everyone involved with Ebola work. The bad news is the situation reports are apparently fairly unreliable. Ideally the two data sources would match up very closely. This is not the case.
It's disappointing that the sitreps are not what we thought they were. But ultimately I'm really glad that this information is being made available, because now we can adjust accordingly. I think we should commend the Ministries of Health and the WHO for releasing this data - I value open data and transparency very highly, even when it brings some surprising results.
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