Howie Weiss' research featured in MIT's Technology Review
Howie Weiss and his collaborator Anna Mummert (Alfred University) recently had their work on Modeling the Influence of the Media on Limiting Infectious Disease Outbreaks featured in MIT's Technology Review. This research discusses how, during outbreaks of serious infectious diseases, many individuals closely follow media reports of the outbreak and take steps, including self-isolation, to protect themselves from infection and possibly death. Self-isolation can take many forms including restricting local and long-distance travel, using face masks, and choosing to receive a vaccine. Weiss and Mummert use mathematical modeling to show that public health agencies working together with the media can significantly decrease the severity of an outbreak by providing timely and accurate accounts of the numbers of new infections and deaths. Their model also shows that although providing such information beginning as early as possible is best, even starting to provide it well into the course of an outbreak can significantly reduce the severity of the outbreak. They illustrate their results with a simulated outbreak of Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever in the town of Huntington, West Virginia (population about 50,000).