Should schools be closed during an influenza pandemic?

März 27th, 2007

In February 23 -25, 2007 Dr. Martin Eichner participated in the International Meeting on Emerging Diseases and Surveillance (IMED) in Vienna. This meeting, organized by the International Society for Infectious Diseases, probably was one of the year’s mayor conferences for those involved in the detection, monitoring, and study of emerging pathogens and to those in the front lines of response. It brought together the public health community, scientists, health care workers and other leaders in the field of emerging infectious diseases.

As an expert on modelling infectious diseases, Dr. Martin Eichner recieved particular attention by the participents of IMED 2007. In his poster presentation he demonstrated the effects of closing schools on the spread of pandemic influenza. Closing of day care centers and schools, and cancelling of mass gathering events have already been used to mitigate epidemics of seasonal influenza and other infectious diseases. Now this strategy is currently being discussed in the context of an influenza pandemic. But, as Dr.

Martin Eichner found out with the program InfluSim (www.influsim.info), closing schools can even be dangerous. How Dr. Eichner came to this astonishing conclusion is shown on his poster.

influenza_schoolclosing_poster.gif

Was bringt eine prophylaktische Behandlung des Krankenpflegepersonals während einer Influenza-Pandemie?

März 27th, 2007

Diese Frage steht im Mittelpunkt eines Projektes, das Dr. Martin Eichner und Dr. Markus Schwehm gemeinsam mit dem Bayerischen Landesamt für Gesundheit und Lebensmittelsicherheit (LGL) durchführen. Im Rahmen des Schleißheimer Forums haben die beiden Tübinger Wissenschaftler am 16. Februar 2007 erste Ergebnisse des noch laufenden Projektes vorgestellt.

In welchem Ausmaß während einer Influenza-Pandemie mit Arbeitsausfällen beim Krankenpflegepersonal zu rechnen ist, inwieweit man hier durch eine antivirale Prophylaxe gegensteuern kann und welchen Einfluss dies letztlich auf die Arbeitsbelastung im Krankenhaus hat, das läßt sich mit InfluSim 2.0 abschätzen. Das von Eichner und Schwehm entwickelte und u.a. auch vom LGL genutzte Influenza-Simulationsprogramm InfluSim wurde zu diesem Zweck um mehrere Parameter erweitert und steht in der erweiterten und vollständig überarbeiteten Version 2.0 demnächst jedermann zur freien Verfügung (www.influsim.info).

Founding NEMO – A European Network on Modelling Control Strategies for Health Threats

November 23rd, 2006

In November 20 – 21, 2006 the European Commission (Health & Consumer Protection Directorate-General) invited all potential members with expertise in the field to set up a European Network on modelling control strategies for infectious diseases and other health threats (NEMO). As a member of two EU-funded modelling projects (MODELREL and INFTRANS) Dr. Martin Eichner was one of the invited participants who joined the foundation meeting of NEMO in Luxembourg.

Projects such as MODELREL and INFTRANS have already brought together modelling activities of 7 EU member states. With NEMO, this modelling capacity shall be integrated into a wider modelling network including all EU member states. This all-European Network could in future serve as an advisory instance in crisis management for public health decision authorities at the national and European level.

The use of mathematical models in comparing, planning, implementing and evaluating various control strategies for health threats is of major importance for public health decision makers at all levels. While NEMO just took first steps, the modelling tool InfluSim is already publicly available (www. influsim.info) and endorsed by the European Commission (DG SANCO).

Restriction of free movement – How to limit the spread of pandemic influenza by non-pharmaceutical measures

November 18th, 2006

In November 16, 2006 Dr. Martin Eichner participated in a SANCO Workshop in Luxembourg. Subject of this workshop, organized by the European Commission (Health & Consumer Protection Directorate-General), was the „Restriction of free movement and treatment of non-nationals in relation to pandemic influenza preparedness“. In three sessions the participents from the EU-25 Member States discussed the benefits and potential public health interventions to limit the spread of pandemic influenza by non-pharmaceutical measures.

In the first session, Dr. Martin Eichner demonstrated the effects of social distancing measures, e.g. cancellation of large public gatherings or closing of schools, explored with the program InfluSim. As InfluSim is publicly available (www. influsim.info), this performance received particular attention by the participents of the SANCO workshop.

Dr. Martin Eichner speaks to G8‘s Global Health Security Action Group

November 13th, 2006

In November 9 -10, 2006 Dr. Martin Eichner contributed to a Workshop on Research in Support of Health Security Policies in Brussels. Invited by the Global Health Security Action Group (GHSAG) as a keynote speaker, he gave a lecture on Modelling the Spread and Control of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Using the examples of poliomyelitis, pandemic influenza and smallpox he presented specific mathematical models for decision making. Focusing on the practical aspects of such decision models, Dr. Eichner demonstrated interactive individual-based simulations as well as the program InfluSim (www. influsim.info). InfluSim is concieved as a training and teaching tool to improve global health security in the event of a crisis, the main task of GHSAG.

GHSAG, a Global Health Security Action Group of experts was tasked with developing proposals and concrete actions to improve global health security after the first ministerial meeting of the Global Health Security Initiative (GHSI), held in Ottawa in November 2001. Attending to the GHSI were the Health Ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK, the USA, Mexico and the European Commissioner for Health.

The Health Ministers, at their meeting in November 2005, accepted the offer by the European Commission to host a symposium on research activities in health security by the GHSI partners. The aim of the symposium, that took place in Brussels, 9 -10 November 2006, was to exchange on research related to improvements in health security which is being undertaken, completed or planned by the GHSI partners.

Participants of the 2006 workshop were the members of the EU Health Security Committee, the GHSAG members and their representatives in the GHSAG technical working groups as well as experts designated by GHSAG members to act as chairs, rapporteurs and keynote speakers – such as Dr. Martin Eichner.