Agent-based modeling of seasonal population movement and the spread of the 1918-1919 flu: the effect on a small community
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Agent-based modeling provides a new approach to the study of virgin soil epidemics like the 1918-1919 flu. By using this bottom-up simulation approach, a landscape can be created and populated with a heterogeneous group of agents who move and interact in ways that more closely resemble human behavior than is usually seen in modeling techniques. This project uses the Norway House community in Manitoba, Canada as a framework for an agent-based model of the spread of the 1918-1919 flu epidemic. The epidemic arrived at Norway House, during the winter, when the community was dispersed in small, family hunting groups, leaving a small group of people running the fort. Hunters would return to the fort periodically for trade. In the summer, the entire community would gather near the fort. This travel pattern, along with the known characteristics of the influenza epidemic, is the basis for the model. Simulations are used to investigate the potential impact of seasonality in travel and population distribution on the spread of the flu epidemic. Results demonstrate that seasonality in travel and population distribution influence the spread of the flu epidemic. In the summer, when the people are congregated around the fort, the epidemic is short and intense. In the winter, when the people are dispersed on the land, the epidemic is long and less intense.