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Thursday, July 26, 2012

MIT Model Airport Disease

MIT Model Airport Disease - A study by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have completed a study that they say shows which U.S. airports are most at risk of spreading deadly diseases like SARS during a pandemic.

In the past ten years we have seen a number of disease outbreaks that have spread around the world. In 2003, the SARS outbreak took merely a few weeks to spread from Hong Kong to 37 countries, killing nearly 1,000 people in its wake. In 2009, the H1N1 “swine flu” pandemic killed nearly 300,000 people worldwide.

Such outbreaks heighten awareness that new pathogens could spread quickly around the world with the help of air travellers.

To investigate such contagion patterns, scientists are building mathematical models that incorporate ideas from complex network systems and how information spreads in social networks.

Up to now, these models have focused on the final stages of outbreaks, looking at places that ultimately develop the highest infection rates.

But the MIT researchers took a different approach: they decided to focus on the early stages of epidemics and compare the likelihoods of spread from their home cities to other places through the largest 40 airports of the US.

Thus their model takes into account the travel patterns of individuals, the geographic location of airports, the differences in connectedness between airports, and the waiting times at individual airports. Bringing these factors together, the model then tries to predict where and how fast a disease might spread.

The researchers suggest this way of looking at the problem could help decide the best ways to contain infection and distribute vaccine and treatments in the first few days of an outbreak.

Senior author Ruben Juanes, the ARCO Associate Professor in Energy Studies at MIT’s department of CEE, told the press:

“Our work is the first to look at the spatial spreading of contagion processes at early times, and to propose a predictor for which ‘nodes’ – in this case, airports – will lead to more aggressive spatial spreading.”

“The findings could form the basis for an initial evaluation of vaccine allocation strategies in the event of an outbreak, and could inform national security agencies of the most vulnerable pathways for biological attacks in a densely connected world,”

MIT Model Airport Disease Rating: 4.5 Diposkan Oleh: Arm Aritn


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