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Computer Model Gives Clues to Dealing With Flu Pandemics


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Researchers from the University of Western Australia (UWA) say their computer simulation of the spread of H5N1 avian influenza could be applied to the current swine flu (H1N1) outbreak. UWA researchers used statistical data about the town of Albany to model the community of 30,000 people in southwest Western Australia down to its schools, employers, and households. The experts believe the model is the most detailed replication of an actual community.

Professor George Milne says that non-pharmaceutical measures could help contain an outbreak and limit the overall burden of epidemics. The research touts the quick implementation of social distancing measures such as school closures, home isolation, partial closure of workplaces, and reduced community contact. "The timing of activation of such non-pharmaceutical interventions is critical," Milne says. "For a very transmissible strain, application of all four interventions at the same time as the first case is introduced, and enforcing these draconian measures continuously, can potentially hold the illness rate at 16 percent," compared to 73 percent if they are not used.

From The University of Western Australia
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