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Supercomputing Challenge

A Pandemic: Avian (bird) Flu

Team: 6


Area of Science: Epidemiology


Problem Definition:

Avian Influenza, also known as Bird Flu is a naturally occurring and very contagious virus among birds. There have been hundreds of known cases involving 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 Project is to be modeled in Java using a network of nodes; the nodes will contain a number of factors. Each node is not individual but rather a collective, some examples would be: where the node is, the amount of people in each node, the number of infected and uninfected with the virus, number of people that are immune, number of people who are carriers but show no signs of the Avian flu symptoms, death rate by virus and random natural deaths. The Nodes will be able to simulate any size of population, as in a town, city, house or room. Thus the program will be flexible for a variety of purposes. The Nodes with a higher population density will of course have higher rate of infection than those in a lower population density. The program will model the travel behavior of people from one point to another as in everyday life. A person who is infected will be less likely to be traveling in the present condition, whereas a person who is a carrier but not suffering any of the symptoms may travel normally and be infecting other subjects along the way. The models that are to be used are assumptions of other similar models that have been collected from the Center of Disease Control. The subjects, meaning the people, will be categorized in a non-linear fashion; examples would include: normal to infected, infected to cured, normal to immune; some states may be skipped altogether.

Progress to date:

We are in the process of coding the simulation, using the data collected from the CDC and the World Health Organization. We are also currently in the process of determining realistic variables which will determine the communicability of the disease.

Expected Results:

When our program is successfully running, we hope to be able to determine the effects on populations, and the specific behavior of the virus in the event of a pandemic outbreak of the Avian flu in the United States. With data collected from our program's output, epidemiologists can formulate a plan to combat an outbreak of the avian flu. Through future modifications, our program will also be able to be adapted to model the effects and spread of any other disease or pathogen, aiding in the development of a course of action in response to any epidemiological outbreak.

Team Members:

  Matthew Cardiel
  Jesus Lopez
  Jacob Terry
  Curtis Tade

Sponsoring Teacher: Albert Simon

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