06:06am Wednesday 20 September 2017

Mathematician provides model to eradicate polio

“We discovered that the best strategy to eradication is to coordinate national immunization days (NIDs) across different regions. It is within our power and provides obvious benefits,” says Smith?, of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. NIDs involve mass vaccinations in affected countries over one or two days. In a single NID in India, 174 million children are vaccinated. NIDs, otherwise known as “pulses,” happen twice a year.

With mathematical modelling, it is possible to predict the success of NIDs . Smith? adds that “modelling also helped us see the most important factors that affect polio eradication: migration and seasonality. Seasonality becomes more important if migration is low, and the opposite applies if migration is high.”

Poliomyelitis, commonly referred to as polio, causes severe disability and paralysis, especially among children. When eradication efforts began in 1988, there were 350,000 cases. In 2013, there were fewer than 500 cases.

The full study is published in the July 2015 edition of the Journal of Mathematical Biology.

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Kina Leclair
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University of Ottawa
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