Other Media

Forecasting Flu Outbreaks


New software based on statistical probability principles is helping forecast our flu season, and could also identify the level of threat of a bioterrorist attack. A forecasting tool that uses data routinely collected by state health departments could be used to forecast disease in the event of a bioterrorist attack or new influenza pandemic.

Vaccination: A numbers game that adds up



Is the end of Zika nigh? How populations develop immunity


The Zika outbreak, arriving on the heels of Ebola and just in time for the Rio Olympics, has challenged global health agencies to respond rapidly and effectively. Determining the appropriate response is far from straightforward, though, as there is much we don’t yet know about the Zika virus.

A pair of papers published recently in the journal Science have reviewed current evidence about the spread and control of Zika. These studies use mathematical models to help understand how the virus may spread.

Read the full article here.

Computing helps the study of infections on a global and local scale


Millions of people suffer each year from infectious diseases which are responsible for about a quarter of all deaths worldwide. But tracking the cause of such illness and trying to avoid their spread is always a challenge.

Read the full article here.

Explainer: what is herd immunity?


The recent outbreak of chickenpox in a Melbourne primary school is a reminder that even in a country like Australia where immunisation rates are high, children and adults are still at risk of vaccine-preventable diseases.

Outbreaks such as this one occur from time to time for two main reasons. Read the full article here.

Why predicting a flu outbreak is like betting on football or flipping a coin


We humans have an innate tendency to recognise patterns. This ability has helped us survive by learning important skills such as how to distinguish danger (predators and poisonous plants, for instance) from important resources (food sources and safe shelter) and knowing the right time of year to plant crops.

But the same ability can sometimes convince us we’re seeing a meaningful pattern when it isn’t there.

Read the full article here.

Health Check: when are we most likely to catch viral diseases?


Viruses have been described as “organisms at the edge of life”, unable to reproduce outside the cells of those they infect. But this status has not impeded their evolutionary success. Children, in particular, experience a multitude of viral illnesses during their early years, which gradually reduce over time as their natural immunity develops.

Viral infections may be fleeting (think influenza) or chronic (HIV, for instance), affecting various parts of the body to cause a diverse array of symptoms. These differences have important implications for the spread of that particular viral disease.

Read full article here.