Study: Social separation stops flu spread


PERTH, Australia (UPI) — An Australian study shows flu interventions must be imposed quickly and must be maintained for a relatively long period if they are to be effective.

University of Western Australia Professor George Milne and colleagues said staying at home, closing schools and isolating infected people within the home should reduce infection, but only if they are used in combination, and activated without delay.
The researchers simulated the effect of social-distancing on the spread of a flu virus within a small town, using a software program engineered by university research fellow Joel Kelso.

“Our results suggest a critical role of combined social-distancing measures in the potential control of a future pandemic,” said Milne. “Non-pharmaceutical social-distancing interventions are capable of preventing less-infectious influenza epidemics and of significantly reducing the rate of development and overall burden of the worst epidemics.”

The research investigated the effects, alone and in combination, of workplace non-attendance, school closure, isolating infected family members inside the home and reducing contact within the wider community.

“While such draconian measures seem unlikely to be mandated given their impact on personal freedom, they appear to have a key role to play in delaying the development of a ‘worst case’ influenza epidemic,” Milne said.

The study appears in the journal BMC Public Health.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 9th MAY 2009

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