Archive for February, 2012

Anthrax Bioterrorism Modeling, an Analysis of Prepositioning Antibiotics and PODS, Part 2

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Author: An Interview with Dr. Sid Baccam, Senior Scientist – Computational Epidemiologist, IEM

Our continued conversation with Dr. Sid Baccam addresses his basis for determining incubation periods for anthrax and the benefits and challenges of prepositioning antibiotics versus the benefits and challenges of Points of Dispensing (POD) access. If you missed the first part of the interview, click here.

Since there has never been a widespread anthrax attack, what did you use as a basis for determining incubation periods for anthrax? Besides the 2001 attacks, the only other real widespread anthrax event took place in Sverdlovsk, Russia in 1979. At that time, the Russians weren’t forthcoming with information about the event. Later, a team of American researchers went into Russia to investigate. They found out that it was an aerosol release of anthrax spores from a bio-weapons facility. It took a couple of years to get the data on incubation period and mortality rates. But there are many caveats that come with that because it was 12-13 years after the event and it is unclear whether we got all the data. No one is walking into this with blinders on thinking this is perfect data that has been compiled on incubation periods for anthrax. (more…)

Anthrax Bioterrorism Modeling, an Analysis of Prepositioning Antibiotics and PODS (Points of Dispensing)

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Author:  An Interview with Dr. Sid Baccam, Senior Scientist – Computational Epidemiologist, IEM

anthrax virusIEM Computational Epidemiologist Dr. Sid Baccam has been working with the Department of Health and Human Services for the past 9 years developing models to analyze response to bioterrorism attacks involving anthrax or other bioterrorism agents. Dr. Baccam has been specifically focused on post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) dispensing logistics and its impact on medical consequences. The results of his work were recently cited in a National Academy of Sciences (NAS)/Institute of Medicine (IOM) report that analyzed strategies for prepositioning antibiotics to improve response to a terrorist attack involving anthrax.

We sat down with Dr. Baccam to gain a deeper understanding of his work with anthrax and bioterrorism response planning.

What is the nature of the modeling and simulation work that you are doing for HHS?

We’ve been working with HHS since 2003, helping them and answer two basic questions—how many people could possibly become sick or die from different biological attacks and what types of medical intervention strategies can we employ to help mitigate the impacts of biological attacks. We build models and simulations to help senior decision makers better understand how a biological attack may play out depending on different response policies. We combine a lot of information in our models, from infectious doses required to cause infection in people, to how the diseases may progress in the presence or absence of medical interventions, and the speed of the public health response, so we can show decision makers the potential consequences.

It’s very hard for people to conceptualize all the moving parts and to know how different factors affect the outcome – that’s where our models are the most beneficial. (more…)