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Rapid response key to pandemic

17th April 2007

Rapidly implemented public health measures like restrictions on social gatherings could hold the key to minimising death rates during an influenza pandemic, a computerised study on the 1918 "Spanish Flu" pandemic has shown.


In the United States, cities which restricted public gatherings and social contact within two days of the first cases appearing had significantly lower death rates than those whose authorities were slower to respond.

The studies, which were partially funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), strongly suggest a rapid early non-medical intervention was key to pandemic preparedness today.

“These important papers suggest that a primary lesson of the 1918 influenza pandemic is that it is critical to intervene early,? NIAID director Anthony S. Fauci said in a statement on the organisation's website.

“While researchers are working very hard to develop pandemic influenza vaccines and increase the speed with which they can be made, nonpharmaceutical interventions may buy valuable time at the beginning of a pandemic while a targetted vaccine is being produced,? Fauci added.

The studies formed part of the computer project called Models of Infectious Disease Agent Study (MIDAS).

The first of the two historical studies, conducted by a team of researchers from NIAID, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Harvard School of Public Health, looked at 19 different public health measures that were implemented in 17 US cities in the autumn of 1918. The second study, at Imperial College London, looked at 16 US cities for which both the start and stop dates of interventions were available.


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Article Information

Title: Rapid response key to pandemic
Author: Luisetta Mudie
Article Id: 2572
Date Added: 17th Apr 2007


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