Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Strategies to Rein in Disease Epidemics Need to be Retooled for Rural Populations

04.06.2009
Strategies to mitigate disease epidemics in cities will not be so effective in rural areas, according to computer engineers, because in cities, people have a lot of informal contact with one another but looser ties. Rural residents also report being more likely to visit and interact with others during an epidemic.

An infectious disease striking a large city may seem like a disastrous scenario -- millions of people sharing apartment buildings, crammed on buses and trains and brushing past one another on crowded sidewalks.


Image courtesy of K-State College of Engineering
A graph showing one rural resident, represented in the center, and all of the people that person is connected with, represented by nodes radiating from the center.

A group of Kansas State University engineers is finding that a truly disastrous epidemic scenario could also take place in the wide-open spaces of the Great Plains. Caterina Scoglio, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, is leading an Epicenter research project called SGER: Exploratory research on complex network approach to epidemic spreading in rural regions.

Scoglio is working with Todd Easton, associate professor of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering; Robert Kooij, adjunct associate professor of electrical and computer engineering; and Walter Schumm, professor of family studies and human services.

With funding from the National Science Foundation, they are using academic models to study the spread of diseases in rural areas. Their goal is to identify optimal strategies to forecast and control disease outbreaks in rural areas.

"What are used as mitigation strategies in cities will not be so effective in rural areas," Scoglio said. "In cities, people have a lot of informal contact with one another but looser ties."

This means that during a disease outbreak, urban residents are less likely to interact with sick neighbors and therefore less likely to contract or spread a disease. On the other hand, Schumm found that 35 percent of rural residents would be willing to visit other people in the community during a major epidemic, citing the results of a rural survey recently conducted as part of the project.

"In a rural setting, you're maybe more likely to watch out for all of your neighbors, and your neighbors may also be your uncles, aunts and other family members," Easton said.

Easton's research group ran a computer simulation on a hypothetical disease outbreak in a rural town in which on Day 1 everyone is healthy. By Day 20, they found that everyone would have contracted the disease.

"We found that person-to-person contact is most important," Easton said. "Having a population with two times as many interpersonal contacts is more dangerous than a disease that is twice as virulent. This shows that the government's ability to limit travel during an epidemic is very important."

Not only does their research show that rural residents may be more likely to maintain normal levels of social contact than urban residents, but the researchers said that the decreased access to hospitals and physicians also make rural areas especially vulnerable during an epidemic.

The computer models suggest that vaccines be administered to people who have contact with the largest network of friends, family, co-workers and neighbors. Scoglio said that it would be equally important to vaccinate people who don't have many contacts themselves but who are a common link between two well-connected communities.

The researchers don't see technology like cell phones and Web calling reducing person-to-person contact among rural residents during an epidemic in the way it would for urban residents. For one thing, Easton said, rural populations tend to be older and may not have adopted some technologies as rapidly. Also, high-speed internet connections and cellular phone service can be limited in rural areas, encouraging more interpersonal interactions in a major epidemic event.

The research was presented in Hyogo, Japan, in Delft, Netherlands, and most recently at the International Federation for Information Processing Networking 2009 in Aachen, Germany. It also is slated to appear in multiple academic journals.

Sources: Caterina Scoglio, 785-532-4646, caterina@k-state.edu;
and Todd Easton, 785-532-3478, teaston@k-state.edu

Caterina Scoglio | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.k-state.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht GLUT5 fluorescent probe fingerprints cancer cells
20.04.2018 | Michigan Technological University

nachricht Scientists re-create brain neurons to study obesity and personalize treatment
20.04.2018 | Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: BAM@Hannover Messe: innovative 3D printing method for space flight

At the Hannover Messe 2018, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM) will show how, in the future, astronauts could produce their own tools or spare parts in zero gravity using 3D printing. This will reduce, weight and transport costs for space missions. Visitors can experience the innovative additive manufacturing process live at the fair.

Powder-based additive manufacturing in zero gravity is the name of the project in which a component is produced by applying metallic powder layers and then...

Im Focus: Molecules Brilliantly Illuminated

Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.

Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum Technology for Advanced Imaging – QUILT

24.04.2018 | Information Technology

AWI researchers measure a record concentration of microplastic in arctic sea ice

24.04.2018 | Earth Sciences

Complete skin regeneration system of fish unraveled

24.04.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>