Ebola: Threat or Hype?

Curious about the health risks of the current ebola epidemic but too lazy to absorb all of the 125+ academic papers about it on PubMed? Then use the djotjog report tool to assimilate the papers into a quick summary.

Here is a wordtree built from the full text of these four articles:

Reston ebolavirus in humans and animals in the Philippines: a review. Miranda ME, Miranda NL.

Ebola and Marburg hemorrhagic fevers: neglected tropical diseases? MacNeil A, Rollin PE.

Assessment of the risk of Ebola virus transmission from bodily fluids and fomites. Bausch DG, Towner JS, Dowell SF, Kaducu F, Lukwiya M, Sanchez A, Nichol ST, Ksiazek TG, Rollin PE.

Management of accidental exposure to Ebola virus in the biosafety level 4 laboratory, Hamburg, Germany. Günther S, Feldmann H, Geisbert TW, Hensley LE, Rollin PE, Nichol ST, Ströher U, Artsob H, Peters CJ, Ksiazek TG, Becker S, ter Meulen J, Olschläger S, Schmidt-Chanasit J, Sudeck H, Burchard GD, Schmiedel S.


There are many topics that spring out of the map. Here is the area I was interested in, because it pertained to the risks:


EBOV – abbreviation for the ebola virus – is transmitted via direct contact with bodily fluids. You do not need to worry about Ebola in the United States, unless you work in a hospital. The biggest problem in Africa has been that people who died of Ebola can infect others as their bodies are prepared for burial. It is uncommon for diseasses to be viable after the host is dead. Ebola is a rare exception. Given the difficulty in educating the public in rural Africa, it was no surprise that outbreaks happened. Nobody told the undertakers to take care.

The maps are probably not terribly informative. But I wanted to see what sense the algorithm would make of academic papers.

Other key phrases it pulled out were “breast milk”, “medical equipment”, “animal handlers”, and “day 4”.

The algorithm highlighted this sentence as a representative summary of the whole: “We found EBOV to be shed in a wide variety of bodily fluids during the acute phase of illness, including saliva, breast milk, stool, and tears.”

The function word patterns for medical journal text shows an absence of just about everything that makes language compelling to humans:

Function Word Patterns
(How much more or less often do they appear than expected?)

Relationships words appear 97% less often
Exclusives words appear 20% less often
Black White words appear 65% less often
Tentative words appear 23% less often
Positive Emotion words appear 83% less often
Question words appear 21% more often
Discrepancy words appear 31% more often
Gratitude words appear 67% less often
Analytical words appear 79% less often
Cause Effect words appear 73% less often
Negative Words words appear 60% less often
Organization words appear 80% less often
Aspirational Words words appear 88% less often
Negative Emotion words appear 91% less often
Cognitive words appear 71% less often

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