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Modeling Infectious Diseases
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Background:

Throughout history, infectious diseases have had a large impact on the human population. Although
infectious diseases are present in human populations at all times to some degree, the effects of
epidemics (def: a rapid spread of a disease) are the most noticeable and spectacular. For example, in 14th
century Europe, one quarter of the total population died from the Black Death. In 1520,
approximately half of the 3.5 million members of the Aztec population died of smallpox. (Cortez
took advantage of the situation to overthrow their empire.) Between 1918 and 1921, the Soviet Union
experienced about 25 million cases of typhus with a death rate of approximately 10 percent. Yet
another, for the two decades starting in 1934, tropical Africa suffered a nearly 40% childhood
mortality rate from malaria and malaria-related diseases, which still pose a major threat today.

Illustration of the Black Death from the Toggenburg Bible (1411)
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Currently, there is worldwide concern over the spread of many diseases, such as HIV, the virus
which causes AIDS. In the United States, tens of thousands of deaths have been reported from this
disease since the start of the epidemic in the late 1970’s. The impact has been even more severe in
other parts of the world. In particular, central Africa has been severely affected by this disease with
even more serious effects expected to be felt in the coming years.

Epidemiology is the field of study which focuses on infectious diseases and their outbreaks. For
centuries people have been attempting to understand and describe the phenomenon of infectious
diseases. Daniel Bernoulli (1760) appears to have been the first person to apply mathematics to the
study of infectious diseases.

Ethical considerations as well as time constraints make it virtually impossible to do laboratory studies
of the spread of an infectious disease throughout a population. However, mathematical models can
be used to simulate the spread of a disease, and can therefore help to predict its impact.
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depending on the disease. Infected people eventually recover and. N. changing. N = S + I + R. the numbers in each group will change over time: Infected people come into contact with susceptible people. Given the nature of an infectious disease. These changes create what is called a dynamic (def: lively.Susceptible (S) are those who don’t yet have it but can get it.Infected (I) are those who have the infection and can spread it to others. . active) system. This population can be divided into three classes of people who are: . One mathematical model expresses that an epidemic can be predicted if three values are known: 1) the number of susceptible people at the start 2) the infection rate (disease specific) 3) the recovery rate (disease specific) The severity of the outbreak is indicated by the percentage of susceptible people who get infected.The SIR Model: Imagine a community having a total population. . who then become infected as well. 2 . are now immune to it or temporarily so.Removed (R) are those who had it and recovered or died.

• An infected person remains contagious and sick for an average of 5 days. Spread of the Flu 500 400 Number of People 300 Susceptible People Infected People 200 Recovered People 100 0 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 Time in Days c. infected. • 499 students are susceptible.The Control Scenario: • 500 total students at a school. you are immune to it. • One student becomes sick with the flu. Use the colors in the key to code each group.susceptible.20) recover every day. and recovered . a. sketch three lines that display your prediction of how each population . which means that on average 20% (0. what values do we know at the start. Susceptible trend: Infected trend: Recovered trend: 3 . • An infection rate for the flu has been mathematically determined to be a 1/1000 chance. given the standard scenario above? N=S+I+R N= _____ S=_____ I= _____ R=_____ b.would be affected as the days pass. Based on the data above. 1. • Once you catch the flu and recover from it. Briefly explain your predicted trend for each population. For the formula.

e. Open the Stella program to view and use the model. Insert a copy of the model’s graph into the space below: f. You can manipulate the variables by adjusting the slider or dials. Variables to Change: Population size (initial number of susceptible) Initial number of infected Infection rate Recovery rate Vaccination rate 4 . Describe the trend for each population. Manipulating the Variables Use the modeling program to see how decreasing and increasing the variables below might affect how a disease spreads. Explain how the model predicts how this infectious disease might spread through a population. Run the Control Simulation to see how the model predicts the populations will change over time. d. Minimum and maximum limits have been put in place so that realistic scenarios can be predicted.

Inserted copy of model’s graph: d. Your prediction of the impact: 5 . Variable studied: _______________________________________________ b. Variable studied: _______________________________________________ b. Inserted copy of model’s graph: d. Graph analysis: Describe the model’s prediction about how this variable might impact disease transmission. Inserted copy of model’s graph: d. Manipulation 2: a. You will need to space the different sections out more when you add your content.Complete the following for each variable you study. Manipulation 1: a. Graph analysis: Describe the model’s prediction about how this variable might impact disease transmission. Variable changed: _______________________________________________ b. Your prediction of the impact: c. Your prediction of the impact: c. An example will be done together before you and explore on your own. Graph analysis: Describe the model’s prediction about how this variable might impact disease transmission. Variable studied: _______________________________________________ b. Your prediction of the impact: c. Manipulation 3: a. Manipulation Example: a.

Graph analysis: Describe the model’s prediction about how this variable might impact disease transmission. 6 . Inserted copy of model’s graph: d. Manipulation 4: a. Graph analysis: Describe the model’s prediction about how this variable might impact disease transmission. Inserted copy of model’s graph: d. Variable studied: _______________________________________________ b. Your prediction of the impact: c. c.