November 7, 2016
This post originally appeared on Science Daily.
The delay between the time when a disease outbreak becomes possible and when it actually happens depends chiefly on how frequently infection is introduced to the population and how quickly the number of cases caused by a single individual increases, according to new research from the University of Georgia.
The findings, just published in the Royal Society journal Interface, lay the theoretical groundwork for a disease forecasting system that could give public health officials time to prepare for — or possibly even prevent — certain outbreaks in the future.
Infectious diseases pose a serious threat to public health around the world, as recent outbreaks of emerging diseases such as Zika and re-emerging ones such as measles attest. An early warning system for infectious diseases could not only save lives but also allow public health resources to be used more efficiently and effectively. Developing such a system is the goal of Project AERO, a research collaborative led by John M. Drake, a professor in the UGA Odum School of Ecology, director of the Center for the Ecology of Infectious Diseases, and the study’s senior author. The paper is one of the project’s first outcomes.