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Measuring the uncertainties of pandemic influenza

A major collaboration between US research centers has highlighted three factors that could ultimately determine whether an outbreak of influenza becomes a serious epidemic that threatens national health. The research suggests that the numbers in current response plans could be out by a factor of two or more depending on the characteristics of the particular pandemic influenza.

Researchers from Argonne, Los Alamos, and Sandia National Laboratories, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, have used sensitivity analysis to uncover the most important disease characteristics pertaining to the spread of infection with an influenza virus.

Although we are yet to face an H5N1 avian influenza epidemic, the team suggests that they have nevertheless been able to develop a worst-case scenario for all possibilities considering mortality rates and infectiousness based on current knowledge and historical patterns dating back to the 1917-1918 global pandemic.

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