The Influence of Social Network Graph Structure on Disease Dynamics in a Simulated Environment Page: 1
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Naturally occurring epidemics/pandemics have always plagued mankind, however, increased
population coupled with decreased travel time in the modern era have amplified the cause for con-
cern over such events. Additionally, the cultural environment today is much more diverse than ever
before. An outbreak that once would have affected only a small portion of society might now im-
pact the entire world. Moreover, public health experts agree that future epidemics/pandemics are
inevitable . We should not ask, "When will it happen?" but rather "How will we deal with it
when it happens?" The recent emergence of the H 1N1 virus, also known as the swine flu, increased
public awareness regarding the serious nature of a pandemic event. In fact, as of 17 October 2009,
the World Health Organization (WHO) reports more than 414, 000 laboratory confirmed cases and
nearly 5, 000 deaths worldwide attributed to the H1N1 virus . In the United States alone, the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports 4, 958 laboratory confirmed hospital-
izations and 292 deaths as a result of the virus during the time period of 30 August 2009 through
10 October 2009 . The breakdown of the US cases by age is shown in Figure 1.1. Disease dy-
namics, i.e. how, where, and to whom a disease will spread, are unpredictable. Emerging viruses
do not necessarily follow the same pattern as previous outbreaks of a similar nature.
Among other concerns, there is often a shortage of vaccines. Shortages may be caused by an
interruption in supply, an increase in demand, or a lack of funding . In the case of the 2009
H1N1 swine flu, delays were attributed to problems in production, packaging, and distribution,
along with the challenge of producing the seasonal flu vaccine at the same time . Regardless
of the reason, a lack of vaccine for an entire population presents the dilemma of who should
receive the available supply. Several options can be considered when vaccine priority decisions are
made. A policy that is best for the individual may not be optimal for the entire population .
Highest priority groups for the H1N1 vaccine were health care workers and people who were at
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Johnson, Tina V. The Influence of Social Network Graph Structure on Disease Dynamics in a Simulated Environment, dissertation, December 2010; Denton, Texas. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc33173/m1/11/: accessed May 19, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; .