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    ABSTRACT: Changes in the spread of disease-causing viruses into Australia, New Zealand and the Southwest Pacific are examined. Particular reference is made to the impact of reduced travel times between those areas and both Western Europe and Southeast Asia on the transfer of infectious human diseases, notably smallpox, measles, influenza and rubella. The likely consequences of increasing population size and decreasing remoteness on the entry of other infectious diseases are noted.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2008 · New Zealand Geographer
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    ABSTRACT: While there is a large literature on the form of epidemic waves in the time domain, models of their structure and shape in the spatial domain remain poorly developed. This paper concentrates on the changing spatial distribution of an epidemic wave over time and presents a simple method for identifying the leading and trailing edges of the spatial advance and retreat of such waves. Analysis of edge characteristics is used to (a) disaggregate waves into ‘swash’ and ‘backwash’ stages, (b) measure the phase transitions of areas from susceptible, S, through infective, I, to recovered, R, status (S → I → R) as dimensionless integrals and (c) estimate a spatial version of the basic reproduction number, R 0. The methods used are illustrated by application to measles waves in Iceland over a 60-year period from 1915 to 1974. Extensions of the methods for use with more complex waves are possible through modifying the threshold values used to define the start and end points of an event.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2006 · Journal of Geographical Systems
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    ABSTRACT: Frequent ash fallout from long-lived eruptions (with active phases greater than 5 years) may lead to local populations experiencing unacceptably high cumulative exposures to respirable particulate matter. Ash from Montserrat has been shown to contain significant levels of cristobalite and other reactive agents that are associated with an increased risk of developing pneumoconiosis (including silicosis) and other long-term health problems. There are a number of difficulties associated with estimating risks in populations due to uncertain and wide ranging individual exposures, change in behaviour with time and the natural variation in individual response. Present estimates of risk in workers and other population groups are simplifications based on a limited number of exposure measurements taken on Montserrat (1996–1999), and exposure−response curves from epidemiological studies of coal workers exposed to siliceous dust. In this paper we present a method for calculating the long-term cumulative exposure to cristobalite from volcanic ash by Monte Carlo simulation. Code has been written to generate synthetic time series for volcanic activity, rainfall, ash deposition and erosion to give daily ash deposit values and cristobalite fraction at a range of locations. The daily mean personal exposure for PM10 and cristobalite is obtained by sampling from a probability distribution, with distribution parameters dependent on occupation, ground deposit depth and daily weather conditions. Output from multiple runs is processed to calculate the exceedance probability for cumulative exposure over a range of occupation types, locations and exposure periods. Results are interpreted in terms of current occupational standards, and epidemiological exposure−response functions for silicosis are applied to quantify the long-term health risk. Assuming continuing volcanic activity, median risk of silicosis (profusion 1/0 or higher) for an average adult after 20 years continuous exposure is estimated to be approximately 0.5% in northern Montserrat to 1.6% in Cork Hill. The occupational group with the highest exposure to ash are gardeners, with a corresponding 2% to 4% risk of silicosis. In situations where opportunities for in-depth exposure studies are limited, computer simulations provide a good indication of risk based on current expert knowledge. By running the code for a range of input scenarios, the cost-benefit of mitigation measures (such as a programme of active ash clearance) can be estimated. Results also may be used to identify situations where full exposure studies or fieldwork would be beneficial.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2006 · Bulletin of Volcanology
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BMC Ecology 05/2013; 13(1):16. DOI:10.1186/1472-6785-13-16
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