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Mathematics might save you a trip to the ER
Date:9/22/2007

would save time, healthcare costs, and most importantly, may save many people a trip to the hospital, says Naumova.

Using ten years of data (1992-2001), researchers analyzed the timing, duration and magnitude of each of these enteric, or intestinal, diseases and compared these values to the corresponding average daily outdoor temperature in Massachusetts. Both salmonellosis and cryptosporidiosis peaked at the end of July; the hottest time of year in Massachusetts. However, giardiasis, shigellosis and cryptosporidiosis outbreaks spiked one month after the temperature peak. There was no observable trend for hepatitis A.

Several factors may explain the one-month delay of giardiasis, shigellosis and cryptosporidiosis, explains Naumova, including different routes of transmission of each pathogen, greater spread of a disease due to close person-to-person contact, and different symptoms among patients. More than likely it is a combination of factors. Naumova also notes that this second peak in disease may be linked to recreational water use. By August in Massachusetts, recreational water sources are at their warmest, having been heated all summer long. This higher water temperature, combined with close person-to-person contact, may be the reason for the second peak of outbreaks observed with these three pathogens.

Disease surveillance and alert systems are crucial to preventing the spread of disease. At both the global and community level, public health officials are working with epidemiologists to develop standardized alert and response systems at the first signs of an outbreak, says Naumova. It is our hope that this mathematical model, based on daily data, will contribute a degree of accuracy in the field of outbreak forecasting and disease surveillance.


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Contact: Siobhan Gallagher
Siobhan.Gallagher@tufts.edu
617-636-6586
Tufts University, Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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