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    Characterising pandemic severity and transmissibility from data collected during first few hundred studies
    Black, AJ ; Geard, N ; McCaw, JM ; McVernon, J ; Ross, JV (ELSEVIER SCIENCE BV, 2017-06-01)
    Early estimation of the probable impact of a pandemic influenza outbreak can assist public health authorities to ensure that response measures are proportionate to the scale of the threat. Recently, frameworks based on transmissibility and severity have been proposed for initial characterization of pandemic impact. Data requirements to inform this assessment may be provided by "First Few Hundred" (FF100) studies, which involve surveillance-possibly in person, or via telephone-of household members of confirmed cases. This process of enhanced case finding enables detection of cases across the full spectrum of clinical severity, including the date of symptom onset. Such surveillance is continued until data for a few hundred cases, or satisfactory characterization of the pandemic strain, has been achieved. We present a method for analysing these data, at the household level, to provide a posterior distribution for the parameters of a model that can be interpreted in terms of severity and transmissibility of a pandemic strain. We account for imperfect case detection, where individuals are only observed with some probability that can increase after a first case is detected. Furthermore, we test this methodology using simulated data generated by an independent model, developed for a different purpose and incorporating more complex disease and social dynamics. Our method recovers transmissibility and severity parameters to a high degree of accuracy and provides a computationally efficient approach to estimating the impact of an outbreak in its early stages.
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    Model-Informed Risk Assessment and Decision Making for an Emerging Infectious Disease in the Asia-Pacific Region
    Moss, R ; Hickson, RI ; McVernon, J ; McCaw, JM ; Hort, K ; Black, J ; Madden, JR ; Tran, NH ; McBryde, ES ; Geard, N ; Liang, S (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2016-09-01)
    BACKGROUND: Effective response to emerging infectious disease (EID) threats relies on health care systems that can detect and contain localised outbreaks before they reach a national or international scale. The Asia-Pacific region contains low and middle income countries in which the risk of EID outbreaks is elevated and whose health care systems may require international support to effectively detect and respond to such events. The absence of comprehensive data on populations, health care systems and disease characteristics in this region makes risk assessment and decisions about the provision of such support challenging. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We describe a mathematical modelling framework that can inform this process by integrating available data sources, systematically explore the effects of uncertainty, and provide estimates of outbreak risk under a range of intervention scenarios. We illustrate the use of this framework in the context of a potential importation of Ebola Virus Disease into the Asia-Pacific region. Results suggest that, across a wide range of plausible scenarios, preemptive interventions supporting the timely detection of early cases provide substantially greater reductions in the probability of large outbreaks than interventions that support health care system capacity after an outbreak has commenced. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Our study demonstrates how, in the presence of substantial uncertainty about health care system infrastructure and other relevant aspects of disease control, mathematical models can be used to assess the constraints that limited resources place upon the ability of local health care systems to detect and respond to EID outbreaks in a timely and effective fashion. Our framework can help evaluate the relative impact of these constraints to identify resourcing priorities for health care system support, in order to inform principled and quantifiable decision making.
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    Social encounter profiles of greater Melbourne residents, by location - a telephone survey
    Rolls, DA ; Geard, NL ; Warr, DJ ; Nathan, PM ; Robins, GL ; Pattison, PE ; McCaw, JM ; McVernon, J (BMC, 2015-11-02)
    BACKGROUND: Models of infectious disease increasingly seek to incorporate heterogeneity of social interactions to more accurately characterise disease spread. We measured attributes of social encounters in two areas of Greater Melbourne, using a telephone survey. METHODS: A market research company conducted computer assisted telephone interviews (CATIs) of residents of the Boroondara and Hume local government areas (LGAs), which differ markedly in ethnic composition, age distribution and household socioeconomic status. Survey items included household demographic and socio-economic characteristics, locations visited during the preceding day, and social encounters involving two-way conversation or physical contact. Descriptive summary measures were reported and compared using weight adjusted Wald tests of group means. RESULTS: The overall response rate was 37.6%, higher in Boroondara [n = 650, (46%)] than Hume [n = 657 (32%)]. Survey conduct through the CATI format was challenging, with implications for representativeness and data quality. Marked heterogeneity of encounter profiles was observed across age groups and locations. Household settings afforded greatest opportunity for prolonged close contact, particularly between women and children. Young and middle-aged men reported more age-assortative mixing, often with non-household members. Preliminary comparisons between LGAs suggested that mixing occurred in different settings. In addition, gender differences in mixing with household and non-household members, including strangers, were observed by area. CONCLUSIONS: Survey administration by CATI was challenging, but rich data were obtained, revealing marked heterogeneity of social behaviour. Marked dissimilarities in patterns of prolonged close mixing were demonstrated by gender. In addition, preliminary observations of between-area differences in socialisation warrant further evaluation.