Engineering-systems researchers identify proven strategies to prevent influenza from spreading through a household.
December 7, 2011
Between 1918 and 1920, an influenza epidemic swept across the globe, infecting more than a quarter of the world’s population and killing 50 to 100 million people.
If a similar outbreak occurred today, vaccines might help, but it’s possible that vaccine production would not be ramped up in time to have a significant effect. Furthermore, hospitals would likely be overwhelmed, leaving many patients to be cared for by family members at home.
In that situation, non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) would be critical to minimizing the spread of infection, say Richard Larson and Stan Finkelstein, members of MIT’s Engineering Systems Division (ESD), who want to get the word out about how to prevent the flu from spreading between family members and other groups of people who live or work in close quarters.
“We thought, ‘Let’s look at the dynamics of the home and see if there are any reasonably inexpensive steps that people could take to care for their loved ones and simultaneously minimize the chance of getting infected,’” says Larson, the Mitsui Professor of Engineering Systems.
[continued, click on title]