Friday, December 28, 2012

Importance of "Super-spreaders" in Infectious Disease Outbreaks

Entering Honduras during the H1N1 influenza
pandemic, June 2009
Here is an interesting article from Slate looking at the role of "super-spreaders" in infectious disease outbreaks. This refers to a sub-population of individuals who are more likely to spread an infectious disease than others; it is believed such "super-spreaders" played a role in the SARS pandemic. Identifying these individuals may have a role in managing global infectious disease outbreaks.

At the hospital level, Polgreen and colleagues have studied this phenomenon as it applies to hand hygiene and disease spread. Their work supports the idea that certain healthcare workers are more likely to spread an infectious disease, and has implications for targeting these individuals to prevent disease spread (via such things as optimizing hand hygiene, et cetera).  

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