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Study Underscores Importance Of Rapid Reponse In Curtailing Disease Outbreaks
John Drake, assistant professor in the UGA Institute of Ecology, has created a mathematical model that takes into account how factors such as the speed at which information is gathered about a disease and how quickly that information is disseminated to the public affect the final size of an outbreak.
The model, published in the journal PloS (Public Library of Science) One finds that in the 2003 SARS outbreak in Singapore, doubling the rate at which infected people removed themselves from the larger population by quarantining themselves or seeking treatment would have cut the total number of infected people from 238 to 116. If infected individuals had removed themselves at half the actual rate, the number of cases would have ballooned to nearly 800.
“Infectious diseases are like weeds,” Drake said. “They grow multiplicatively – two infected people, four infected, eight and so forth. So that means you have exponential returns in your ability to control the outbreak the earlier you catch it.”