Epidemiology and Infection

Original Papers


Real-time modelling used for outbreak management during a cholera epidemic, Haiti, 2010–2011

J. Y. ABRAMSa1 c1, J. R. COPELANDa1, R. V. TAUXEa1, K. A. DATEa1, E. D. BELAYa1, R. K. MODYa1 and E. D. MINTZa1

a1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA


The emergence of epidemic cholera in post-earthquake Haiti portended a public health disaster of uncertain magnitude. In order to coordinate relief efforts in an environment with limited healthcare infrastructure and stretched resources, timely and realistic projections of the extent of the cholera outbreak were crucial. Projections were shared with Government and partner organizations beginning 5 days after the first reported case and were updated using progressively more advanced methods as more surveillance data became available. The first projection estimated that 105 000 cholera cases would occur in the first year. Subsequent projections using different methods estimated up to 652 000 cases and 163 000–247 000 hospitalizations during the first year. Current surveillance data show these projections to have provided reasonable approximations of the observed epidemic. Providing the real-time projections allowed Haitian ministries and external aid organizations to better plan and implement response measures during the evolving epidemic.

(Received January 05 2012)

(Revised May 29 2012)

(Accepted July 25 2012)

(Online publication August 31 2012)

Key words

  • Cholera;
  • epidemics;
  • infectious disease control;
  • modelling;
  • Vibrio cholerae


c1 Author for correspondence: Dr J. Y. Abrams, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC Mailstop A30, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA. (Email: JAbrams@cdc.gov)