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The utility of preemptive mass influenza vaccination in controlling a SARS outbreak during flu season

1. Department of Mathematics and Statistics, York University, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, ON M3J 1P3
2. The Centre for Research on Inner City Health, The Keenan Research Centre in the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, of St. Michael's Hospital, University of Toronto, 30 Bond Street, Toronto, ON M5B 1W8
3. Centre for Disease Modeling, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, York University, 4700 Keele Street Toronto, ON, M3J 1P3

During flu season, respiratory infections can cause non-specific influenza-like-illnesses (ILIs) in up to one-half of the general population. If a future SARS outbreak were to coincide with flu season, it would become exceptionally difficult to distinguish SARS rapidly and accurately from other ILIs, given the non-specific clinical presentation of SARS and the current lack of a widely available, rapid, diagnostic test. We construct a deterministic compartmental model to examine the potential impact of preemptive mass influenza vaccination on SARS containment during a hypothetical SARS outbreak coinciding with a peak flu season. Our model was developed based upon the events of the 2003 SARS outbreak in Toronto, Canada. The relationship of different vaccination rates for influenza and the corresponding required quarantine rates for individuals who are exposed to SARS was analyzed and simulated under different assumptions. The study revealed that a campaign of mass influenza vaccination prior to the onset of flu season could aid the containment of a future SARS outbreak by decreasing the total number of persons with ILIs presenting to the health-care system, and consequently decreasing nosocomial transmission of SARS in persons under investigation for the disease.
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Keywords disease outbreaks; theoretical models.; mass immunization; respiratory tract infections; influenza; Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)

Citation: Qingling Zeng, Kamran Khan, Jianhong Wu, Huaiping Zhu. The utility of preemptive mass influenza vaccination in controlling a SARS outbreak during flu season. Mathematical Biosciences and Engineering, 2007, 4(4): 739-754. doi: 10.3934/mbe.2007.4.739


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