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Modelling Influenza Pandemic, Intervention Strategies, and Food Distribution

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Session
Student Competition Winning Paper Presentations

Author
Ali Ekici
Georgia Institute of Technology

Description
Based on the recent incidents of avian flu (H5N1) in Asia and the influenza pandemic cases in history (1918, 1957 and 1968) experts believe that a future influenza pandemic is inevitable and likely imminent. Evidence suggests that an efficient and rapid response will be crucial for mitigating morbidity, mortality, and costs to society. Hence, preparing for a potential influenza pandemic has received high priority from governments at all levels (local, state, federal), non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and companies. In this paper, in collaboration with the American Red Cross, we study the logistics side of the problem, specifically, food distribution logistics during an influenza pandemic. We develop a disease spread model to estimate the spread pattern of the disease geographically and over time, integrate it to a facility location and resource allocation network model for food distribution, and develop heuristics to find near-optimal solutions for large instances. We run our integrated disease spread and facility location model for the state of Georgia and present the estimated number of infections and the number of meals needed in each census tract for a one year period along with a design of the supply chain network. We analyze the impact of two intervention strategies, namely, school closure and voluntary quarantine; our results indicate that voluntary quarantine may be a better alternative due being more effective and less disruptive. Moreover, we investigate the impact of voluntary quarantine on the food requirement and the food distribution network, and show that its effect on the food distribution supply chain can be significant.

Abstract
Based on the recent incidents of avian flu (H5N1) in Asia and the influenza pandemic cases in history (1918, 1957 and 1968) experts believe that a future influenza pandemic is inevitable and likely imminent. Evidence suggests that an efficient and rapid response will be crucial for mitigating morbidity, mortality, and costs to society. Hence, preparing for a potential influenza pandemic has received high priority from governments at all levels (local, state, federal), non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and companies. In this paper, in collaboration with the American Red Cross, we study the logistics side of the problem, specifically, food distribution logistics during an influenza pandemic. We develop a disease spread model to estimate the spread pattern of the disease geographically and over time, integrate it to a facility location and resource allocation network model for food distribution, and develop heuristics to find near-optimal solutions for large instances. We run our integrated disease spread and facility location model for the state of Georgia and present the estimated number of infections and the number of meals needed in each census tract for a one year period along with a design of the supply chain network. We analyze the impact of two intervention strategies, namely, school closure and voluntary quarantine; our results indicate that voluntary quarantine may be a better alternative due being more effective and less disruptive. Moreover, we investigate the impact of voluntary quarantine on the food requirement and the food distribution network, and show that its effect on the food distribution supply chain can be significant.



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