Magazine article USA TODAY

Controlling Swine Flu by Charting Outbreak

Magazine article USA TODAY

Controlling Swine Flu by Charting Outbreak

Article excerpt

A tool that simulates how the spread of a pandemic flu would be reduced dramatically by using antiviral drugs and "social-distancing" measures, such as school closures and working from home, has been developed by researchers at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind.

"Visualizing how specific actions would help to control the spread of a flu pandemic is very valuable to public health officials. The idea is to help them make decisions in terms of when to use stockpiles of antiviral drugs and when to close schools and issue media alerts for social-distancing measures," says David S. Ebert, a professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and director of the Visualization and Analytics Center, which leads visualization sciences for the Department of Homeland Security's Center of Excellence for Command, Control, and Interoperability.

Based on published epidemiology literature and data from the 1918 flu pandemic, the tool, developed in collaboration with researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratories, Richland, Wash., simulates the flu's

dally spread over a two-month period. It compares how the disease progresses if steps are or are not taken to control the spread and the impact of when the measures are implemented. …

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