Indiana University informatics professor Alessandro Vespignani says that two recently developed swine influenza models predict a worst-case scenario of 1,000 cases in the United States within three weeks. So far, there have been about 40 cases of swine influenza reported, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The models were performed at Indiana University and Northwestern University. “What we are finding is that this is not a panic situation and that this thing is not ramping up in some crazy way,” says Vespignani, an expert on the statistical analysis and computer modeling of epidemics. “Right now we are confident that in the next few days things will be more optimistic.” However, he says the next few days will be critical, and models could change as often as every 12 to 24 hours, depending on worldwide events. Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis Center for Law and Health co-director David Orentlicher says governments can be slow to react to threatened pandemics because public health departments and programs are generally severely underfunded, which can make it difficult to detect public health threats and mobilize responses quickly, and because effective public health strategies can disrupt economic activity.
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