Modeling a Potential Epidemic: Avian (Bird) Flu

Team: 1


Area of Science: Epidemiology


Avian Influenza, also known as Bird Flu is a naturally occurring and very contagious virus among birds. There have been over one hundred known cases of human infection since 1997, caused by contact with infected birds and contaminated objects or through an intermediate host. In humans, the virus causes severe respiratory illness, pneumonia, conjunctivitis, and can be fatal. An "antigenic shift," in which the avian influenza strain exchanges genes with a human influenza strain to increase its affinity for humans, could result in a possible pandemic, killing millions.

The purpose of the project is to model the spread of Avian Influenza in the United States given a hypothetical mutation in the virus resulting in a pandemic.

Our group will create a graphical model in Java to simulate the spread of the Avian Influenza in a hypothetical pandemic. This model will take into account possible points of entry for individuals carrying the virus from abroad and the travel tendencies of those individuals, along with statistical factors including the viral incubation period, resistance to treatment, mortality rate, and the rate of transmission between humans. The model will also factor in the migratory habits of certain birds carrying the virus. Our group plans to conduct extensive research on these figures and will implement them in our code. Through the use of Java, our group will create a graphical map of the United States and its major cities. This map will display the level of infection in given regions of the United States. We will create a random number generator to model the travel behavior of infected individuals between cities.

Team Members:

  Christopher Herrera
  Jesus Lopez
  Thomas Hainline
  Anthony Varin

Sponsoring Teacher: Albert Simon