This information helped them to determine the preferred intervention strategy to contain a potential flu pandemic, including what people should do to decrease the likelihood of disease transmission.
The new results, based on three different computer simulation models, are described in a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by scientists involved in the Models of Infectious Disease Agent Study (MIDAS).* MIDAS is a collaboration of research and informatics groups supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop computational models to examine interactions between infectious agents and their hosts, disease spread, prediction systems, and response strategies.
The global epidemic of avian influenza in bird populations, as well as the risk of a virulent form of the bird flu virus being transferred to humans, has made influenza pandemic preparedness a top public health priority in the United States, Europe, and other countries. The great influenza pandemic of 1918 resulted in 40 to 50 million deaths worldwide. If a pandemic were to occur today, it could cause widespread social and economic disruptions.
In the paper, “Modeling Targeted Layered Containment of an Influenza Pandemic in the USA,” members of the MIDAS Working Group on Modeling Pandemic Influenza concluded that a timely implementation of targeted household antiviral prevention measures and a reduction in contact between individuals could substantially lower the spread of the disease until a vaccine was available.
The groups coordinated efforts to each create individual-based, computer simulation models to examine the impact of the same set of intervention strategies used during a pandemic outbreak in a population similar in size to Chicago, which has about 8.6 million residents. Intervention methods used were antiviral treatment and household isolation of identified cases, disease prevention strategies and quarantine of household contacts, school closings, and reducing workplace and community contacts. Although using the same population, each model had its own representation of the combinations of intervention. All of the simulations suggest that the combination of providing preemptive household antiviral treatments and minimizing contact could play a major role in reducing the spread of illness, with timely initiation and school closure serving as important factors.
“VBI’s computer simulation models are built on our detailed estimates for social contacts in an urban environment,” said VBI Professor and NDSSL Deputy Director Stephen Eubank, who leads the VBI team in the working group. “They provide a realistic picture of how social mixing patterns change under non-pharmaceutical interventions such as closing schools or workplaces. For example, when schools close, young students require a caregiver’s attention. That can disrupt social mixing patterns at work if a working parent stays home or make closing schools pointless if the children are placed in large day-care settings. We can use our model to suggest the best mix of intervention strategies in a variety of scenarios, taking factors like these into account.”
Bruno Sobral, Executive and Scientific Director of VBI, remarked: “Transdisciplinary science, which is the foundation of the way we do research at VBI, requires a special type of collaborative framework at the very outset of a project. The highly detailed social-network models that underpin this international research project arise from transdisciplinary science that removes disciplinary boundaries and promotes innovation. The impact of this approach to science is highlighted by the success of this research undertaking which benefits from a very clear interface between diverse experts in high-performance computing, disease modeling and public health practice.”
While the three different models used in the study show that timely intervention significantly impedes the spread of influenza through a population, the authors caution against over-interpretation of the modeling results. The researchers emphasize that the models are tools that provide guidance rather than being fully predictive. In the case of a future outbreak of pandemic influenza, capabilities such as real-time surveillance and other analyses will hopefully be available for the public health community and policy makers.
“These models, which are built from the best available data and with the best tools, contribute greatly to our understanding of how a pandemic could spread and what measures might protect the public’s health,” said Jeremy M. Berg, Ph.D., director of NIH’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences, which supports the MIDAS program. “But they are not our only resource—field work and experimental studies remain critical and will enhance the quality and reliability of these and other models.”
Susan Bland | EurekAlert!
Construction of practical quantum computers radically simplified
05.12.2016 | University of Sussex
UT professor develops algorithm to improve online mapping of disaster areas
29.11.2016 | University of Tennessee at Knoxville
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
06.12.2016 | Materials Sciences
06.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
06.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering