The number of people getting hit by the flu virus keeps growing. It's impossible to accurately predict how fast or how far the spread of the disease will go. Now, a new tool that shows the spread of a flu outbreak and how it can be stopped.
In a matter of seconds, you can be exposed to the cold or flu virus. Although there's protection,
"I had all my children as well as myself and my husband get the flu shot," Marti Burns told Ivanhoe.
ưNo one is a hundred percent safe.
"I've had pneumonia in the past and having the flu would be a condition that could exacerbate another bout of pneumonia," Tim Collins said.
It's impossible to predict the spread of the flu, but now, computer scientists and engineers at Purdue University and Pacific Northwest National Labs, have created a visual tool that simulates the spread of the disease, and shows ways to stop it in its tracks.
"If you take no action, you can see how given the first person who becomes infected, how the pandemic would spread over a 30 day period across the state," David Ebert, Ph.D., a computer scientist at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., explained.
The tool, called PanViz, compares how the disease progresses if certain steps are, or are not taken to control the spread and the impact of the disease.
"You begin taking decision measures such as social distancing, using the media to alert people to stay at home, not come out, closing schools, and so by doing those it lessens the impact of the pandemic," Ross Maciejewski, a Ph.D. candidate at Purdue University said.
Using a computer program, researchers can plug in different scenarios and show visually what would happen across a state if schools were closed earlier, lowering person to person contact, or what affect antiviral medications would have, and how all these actions affect the availability of hospital beds, how many people will end up sick, and the percentage of deaths.
"For us, from the research side, is seeing how we can help people make more effective decision through interaction with visual displays of information, as well as increase the safety and well being of the population," Dr. Ebert said.
From seeing the affect of their actions, public health officials can make quicker decisions when it comes to closing schools, and alerting the public on what to do.
"I would stay home and self treat myself, self medicate," Collins said. You can see for yourself what impact your choice would make at www.engineering.purdue.edu. You're just a mouse click away from seeing the future of the flu.
The simulation tool is currently available for New York, New Jersey, Indiana and Washington State.
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