An Interaction-Based Approach to Computational Epidemiology

Christopher L. Barrett, Stephen Eubank and Madhav V. Marathe

We describe Simdemics: an interaction-based multi-agent approach to support epidemic planning for large urban regions. Simdemics is an example of a disaggregated modeling approach in which interactions between every pair of individuals is represented. It is based on the idea that a better understanding of the characteristics of the social contact network can give better insights into disease dynamics and intervention strategies for epidemic planning. It details the demographic and geographic distributions of disease and provides decision makers with information about (1) the consequences of a biological attack or natural outbreak, (2) the resulting demand for health services, and (3) the feasibility and effectiveness of response options. A unique feature of Simdemics is the size and scale of urban regions that can be analyzed using it. We can currently study realstic urban regions comprising 10-100 million individuals. Simdemics is being developed over last 12 years. It was used in a number of user defined studies, including recent pandemic planning studies undertaken for DHS, DoD and DHHS. For e.g. at the request of federal agencies involved in preparing for an influenza pandemic, during Simdemics as a part of NIH funded MIDAS group analyzed combinations of strategies for responding to influenza. Results of the MIDAS analyses were reviewed in a Letter Report by the Institute of Medicine, Modeling Community Containment for Pandemic Influenza.

Subjects: 1. Applications; 7.1 Multi-Agent Systems

Submitted: Apr 14, 2008

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