Scientists working on mathematical models to predict spread of epidemics

December 22nd, 2007 - 2:53 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, Dec 22 (ANI): Researchers at Kansas State University are working on a project called Epicenter, in order to develop novel mathematical models and simulation software for predicting the spread of epidemics.

These models would provide a new paradigm in predicting how and where the disease spread whether among people, animals and plants or even among computers.

According to the researchers, these epidemic models will offer data that may help researchers to evaluate multiple strategies to stop a disease from spreading.

The models help the researchers in estimating the evolution of a disease not only over time, but also across space.

According to the method used by the researchers people or places are represented by dots and how people or places are connected is represented by lines.

This creates a contact network since different people, places and their locations form different networks; they also form different shapes when graphed.

Researchers believe that shape of the network will help them predict the spread of disease.

“The basic models are multipurpose. When properly adapted, they will fit any specific disease, Caterina Scoglio, Director Epicentre and associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, said.

What is most important is trying to understand the impact of the contact network on the spread of the epidemic. This understanding contributes to help curtail infectious diseases, such as foot and mouth disease,” she added.

Phillip Schumm, K-State senior in electrical and computer engineering, Manhattan, modelled and simulated how disease could spread from one property to another on the Potawatomie Indian Reservation in Jackson County.

Each property was represented with a dot, and adjoining properties were connected with a line. Schumm was able to predict which properties would be affected and when.

Epicenter research is developing models that can simulate the ways in which people, animals and other mobile vectors interact and spread disease to one another.

Todd Easton, the co-director said that aim is to test and implement particular strategies.

“The goal is to be able to implement and test particular strategies on the simulation model. If a cattle disease breaks out, instead of stopping cattle from moving across a large portion of Kansas, maybe stopping the transfer of cattle in a certain critical region would contain the spread of the disease and be less disruptive to society,” he said.

The study would be presented at the Bionetics 2007 conference in Budapest. (ANI)

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