Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Virtual plagues get real," by Virginia Gewin. Nature, 26 February 2004.

Gewin reports on reseachers who are incorporating ecological data inmathematical models to fight against infectious diseases. Epidemiologistsstudying foot-and-mouth disease have used mathematical models to predict theprogress of an outbreak and the effectiveness of control strategies. Suchmodels "helped halt the UK foot-and-mouth epidemic by suggesting an appropriateculling strategy." Modelling has also been used to study outbreaks of measlesand dengue fever. Impediments to progress in the field are the dependence onincorporating better underlying data, and the lack of dialogue betweenmathematical modellers and epidemiologists. However, Andrew Dobson (PrincetonUniversity) believes that "mathematical modelling will be equally as importantas anything that comes from the human genome in terms of its utility in publichealth."

--- Annette Emerson