Modeling pandemic avian flu

New model suggests containment won't be enough, but experts question value of flu predictions

Ishani Ganguli
Feb 20, 2006
Researchers published yet another avian flu model this week, this time arguing the world will likely see multiple pandemic-causing strains of avian flu, suggesting that containment strategies alone will not prevent widespread pandemic. The newest model, published in PloS Medicine, presents a different picture from previous ones, and adds to the growing debate over the usefulness of models in predicting flu patterns.Ultimately, avian flu models suffer from a major limitation, experts say: Lack of information about the form a potential pandemic-causing strain could take. Until the strain, or strains, emerge, "we don't have any real data" on the mechanisms of transmission, let alone on social and environmental factors in such a pandemic, said D.A. Henderson, senior advisor of the Center for Biosecurity of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), who did not participate in this study.With 170 reported human cases, the most virulent form of the...

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