Mathematical Biology Seminar

Seminar information archive ~04/13Next seminarFuture seminars 04/14~


15:00-16:00   Room #056 (Graduate School of Math. Sci. Bldg.)
Robin Thompson (University of Oxford, UK)
Modelling the beginnings, middles and ends of infectious disease outbreaks
[ Abstract ]
There have been a number of high profile infectious disease epidemics recently. For example, the 2013-16 Ebola epidemic in West Africa led to more than 11,000 deaths, putting it at the centre of the news agenda. However, when a pathogen enters a host population, it is not necessarily the case that a major epidemic follows. The Ebola virus survives in animal populations, and enters human populations every few years. Typically, a small number of individuals are infected in an Ebola outbreak, with the 2013-16 epidemic being anomalous. During this talk, using Ebola as a case study, I will discuss how stochastic epidemiological models can be used at different stages of infectious disease outbreaks. At the beginning of an outbreak, key questions include: how can surveillance be performed effectively, and will the outbreak develop into a major epidemic? When a major epidemic is ongoing, modelling can be used to predict the final size and to plan control interventions. And at the apparent end of an epidemic, an important question is whether the epidemic is really over once there are no new symptomatic cases. If time permits, I will also discuss several current projects that I am working on. One of these - in collaboration with Professor Hiroshi Nishiura at Hokkaido University - involves appropriately modelling disease detection during epidemics, and investigating the impact of the sensitivity of surveillance on the outcome of control interventions.

Relevant references:
Thompson RN, Hart WS, Effect of confusing symptoms and infectiousness on forecasting and control of Ebola outbreaks, Clin. Inf. Dis., In Press, 2018.

Thompson RN, Gilligan CA and Cunniffe NJ, Control fast or control Smart: when should invading pathogens be controlled?, PLoS Comp. Biol., 14(2):e1006014, 2018.

Thompson RN, Gilligan CA and Cunniffe NJ, Detecting presymptomatic infection is necessary to forecast major epidemics in the earliest stages of infectious disease outbreaks, PLoS Comp. Biol., 12(4):e1004836, 2016.

Thompson RN, Cobb RC, Gilligan CA and Cunniffe NJ, Management of invading pathogens should be informed by epidemiology rather than administrative boundaries, Ecol. Model., 324:28-32, 2016.
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