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Using R to study impact of exclusion policies of schools during a mumps outbreak
Mumps is a contagious viral disease that primarily affects school-aged children. Before the introduction of the MMR vaccine, hundreds of thousands of cases occurred annually in the US. While the vaccine was successful in dramatically reducing the number of cases, growing trends against childhood vaccinations since the 1990s have reduced vaccination coverage, with consequent re-emergence of mumps. Most jurisdictions of the United States allow parents to exempt their children from vaccination requirements that are mandatory for school enrollment. In response to reduced vaccination rates, some jurisdictions (e. g. Spokane county) grant health officers authority to exclude under-vaccinated students from school during mumps outbreaks for the length of the incubation period (up to 25 days) after their last exposure to a mumps case. During the winter of[masked], 333 probable and confirmed cases of mumps were reported in the Spokane area. Under-vaccinated students in 33 schools were excluded during the outbreak. Following the outbreak, parents and anti-vaccine activists campaigned against exclusion policies, partly because of the large number of school days missed by under-vaccinated students sent home under the policy. Subsequently, the Washington Department of Health relaxed the language of the exclusion policy, stating that exclusion of under-vaccinated students “be considered,” a departure from the previous recommendation that under-vaccinated students should be excluded from school. In this study, we use stochastic models to study different conditions to evaluate the potential impact of relaxed exclusion policies during mumps outbreaks. We find that exclusion is effective at reducing outbreak sizes, and that weakened exclusion policies will lead to mumps outbreaks that last longer and produce more cases. The results of our study will help health officials and policymakers to make informed decisions about using exclusion as an infectious disease control policy. Speaker: David Nguyen. David is a McNair Scholar and an incoming graduate student at the University of Nebraska with an NSF Graduate Student Fellowship. He just graduated with a BSc in Biology at EWU, and worked with Krisztian Magori for the last 3 years on various projects in statistics and mathematical biology.

Gonzaga University School of Business Administration

Room: Jepson 120 · Spokane, WA

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    A group which gets together to discuss their research and work with open source R and packages used within its environment.

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