Impact of Precautionary Behaviors During Outbreaks of Pandemic Influenza: Modeling of Regional Differences
Joakim Ekberg, Henrik Eriksson, Magnus Morin, Einar Holm, Magnus Strömgren, Toomas Timpka
Using time geographic theory for representation of population mixing, we set out to analyze the relative impact from precautionary behaviors on outbreaks of pandemic influenza in Europe and Asia. We extended an existing simulator environment with behavioral parameters from a population survey to model different behaviors. We found that precautionary behaviors even among a minority of the population can have a decisive effect on the probability of the outbreak to propagate. The results also display that assumptions strongly influences the outcome. Depending on the interpretation of how many “children” are kept from “school”, R0 changes from a range where outbreak progression is possible to a range where it is improbable in both European (R0=1.77/1.23) and Asian (R0=1.70/1.05) conditions. We conclude that unprompted distancing can have a decisive effect on pandemic propagation. An important response strategy can be to promote voluntary precautionary behavior shown to reduce disease transmission.