Description: Many infectious diseases are spread through interactions between susceptible and infectious individuals. Keeping track of where each exposure to the disease took place, when it took place, and which individuals were involved in the exposure can give public health officials important information that they may use to formulate their interventions. Further, knowing which individuals in the population are at the highest risk of becoming infected with the disease may prove to be a useful tool for public health officials trying to curtail the spread of the disease. Epidemiological models are needed to allow epidemiologists to study the population dynamics of transmission of infectious agents and the potential impact of infectious disease control programs. While many agent-based computational epidemiological models exist in the literature, they focus on the spread of disease rather than exposure risk. These models are designed to simulate very large populations, representing individuals as agents, and using random experiments and probabilities in an attempt to more realistically guide the course of the modeled disease outbreak. The work presented in this thesis focuses on tracking exposure risk to chickenpox in an elementary school setting. This setting is chosen due to the high level of detailed information realistically available to school administrators regarding individuals' schedules and movements. Using an agent-based approach, contacts between individuals are tracked and analyzed with respect to both individuals and locations. The results are then analyzed using a combination of tools from computer science and geographic information science.
Date: August 2009
Creator: O'Neill II, Martin Joseph
Partner: UNT Libraries