Overview of Avian Influenza

Avian Influenza is a specific type of influenza (flu) that infects birds. Avian Influenza is caused by many different influenza viruses, specifically the H5 and H7 subtypes. H5N1, which has received a lot of media attention, is by far the most virulent and a significant threat to human health and safety.

Quick facts about Avian Influenza

  • H5N1 is spread by migrating waterfowl
  • Originally discovered in Hong Kong, China in 1997, H5N1 has now spread as far west as the United Kingdom
  • H5N1 has caused over 100 human cases, about half fatal
  • Human-to-human transmission of H5N1 has not occurred
  • Authorities have no methods of predicting the spread of Avian Influenza
More information is available from the World Health Organization

Predicting the Spread of Avian Influenza

To predict the spread of Avian Influenza, there are few possible methods. Very little statistical data is available, making methods such as mathematical analysis difficult to perform. Other methods, such as computer-based modeling and simulation have the capability to predict the spread of Avian Influenza.

SEARUMS was developed exactly for this purpose. SEARUMS, which is an acronym for Studying Epidemiology of Avian influenza Rapidly Using Modeling and Simulation, is a full-fledged simulation environment. SEARUMS was used to model the interactions of migrating waterfowl, stationary waterfowl, and poultry, to observe the routes by which avian influenza infection spreads. A detailed description of SEARUMS is also available.