Flu models favorable, if public responds

April 29, 2009 at 1:03 PM
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BLOOMINGTON, Ind., April 29 (UPI) -- Two swine influenza infection models generated this week both predict about 1,000 U.S. cases within three weeks, an expert on computer modeling said.

Alessandro Vespignani of Indiana University in Bloomington said the next 72 hours will be critical and models could change as often as every 12 to 24 hours, based on worldwide events. The models are being created at Indiana University and Northwestern University.

"But this is a worst-case scenario, as we are always working in a worst-case scenario setting," Vespignani said in a statement.

"What we are finding is that this is not a panic situation and that this thing is not ramping up in some crazy way. Right now we are confident that in the next few days things will be more optimistic."

The optimism is due in part to actions taken worldwide, such as the medical alert in Mexico, school closures in Texas, World Health Organization warnings, increased controls at international airports and the availability of an antiviral drug for treatment, Vespignani said.

However, Dr. David Orentlicher, co-director of the Center for Law and Health at the Indiana University School of Law in Indianapolis, said economic considerations may drive the public to compromise the public health response.

"People may find it difficult to stay home and forgo wages when they may be sick or even when they are subject to quarantine," Orentlicher said in a statement.

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