Wednesday, April 09, 2014

An Agent-based Model for the Spread and Containment of Tuberculosis

Over the last few months we have been working on developing a agent-based model which explores the spread and containment of tuberculosis. Today is the first time that we show the model to a academic audience at the AAG Annual meeting. To give a sense of our research, below is the abstract:
Tuberculosis (TB) is a global problem and especially in developing countries. After human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) it is the most common form of death from an infectious disease. However, it is still unknown exactly how it spreads within a population. A geographic explicit agent-based model, with humans as agents, was created and applied to study the TB problem. Specifically the model was developed to see what epidemiological dynamics may occur, and what could be learned about the spreading of the disease. The model was developed in MASON and utilizes the GeoMason GIS extension. A Susceptible-Exposed-Infectious-Recovered (SEIR) submodel was created to model TB progression and linked to daily human activities. The slum of Kibera, Kenya (the largest urban slum in Africa, and an area where TB and HIV is particularly rampant) was chosen as a test-case. Detailed geospatial and demographic information from Kibera was used for the instantiation of the models spatial environment and demographic properties of the agents. Preliminary results obtained from standard model runs show that TB epidemics progress in staircase patterns of emergence and stabilization. Furthermore, it was found that TB was creating hotspots, or pockets of dense disease concentration, from where it was spreading. The results and lessons gleaned from the model can be easily incorporated into current health policies to mitigate TB's negative impact. Furthermore, the research shows the potential of ABMs in investigating infectious diseases.
Susceptible-Exposed-Infectious-Recovered (SEIR) submodel

To give a sense of what the model looks like below we show the full model running with 250,000 agents on the slum of Kibera, Kenya.

In the next movie we show the model running with only 50,000 agents but with a zoomed in section of the Kibera Slum. In this movie, you can see the agents going about their daily activities and how some become infected with TB.

This work would not of been possible without the work of my co-author Parth Chopra and the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology Mentorship Program.

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