Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Formula To Gauge Risk Of Disease Clusters Developed

Date:
August 17, 2007
Source:
University of Pennsylvania
Summary:
Researchers have developed a mathematical formula to assess whether concentrated disease outbreaks can be ascribed to random-chance events or, instead, suggest a contagious or environmental effect that requires epidemiological investigation. A feature of the formula is that, given the relevant data, the required probability calculations can be done in less than five seconds on a personal computer.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have developed a mathematical formula to assess whether concentrated disease outbreaks can be ascribed to random-chance events or, instead, suggest a contagious or environmental effect that requires epidemiological investigation.

A feature of the formula is that, given the relevant data, the required probability calculations can be done in less than five seconds on a personal computer.

In statistical terms, the formula gives an exact expression for the probability distribution of the maximum of a number of multinomially distributed random variables. Mathematically, the formula depends on generating function technology developed by Herbert Wilf, professor of mathematics in the School of Arts and Science at Penn. Warren Ewens of Penn's Department of Biology joined Wilf in developing the formula. Until now, only potentially unreliable, approximate formulae have been available.

The formula was used to investigate two disease cluster cases.

The first was the classic case of a clustering of eight cases of leukemia in Niles, Ill., in 1956-1960, which was reasonably assessed as a chance, random event. On the other hand, 12 cases of acute lymphocytic leukemia in Churchill County, Nev., in 1999-2001 was assessed not to be a chance event but due to a common, possibly environmental cause.

Multiple cases of non-communicable disease, like leukemia, have clustered in small geographic areas quickly, resulting in costly epidemiological study. The authors note that a purely mathematical calculation cannot answer serious public-health questions, but that they can nevertheless point to cases that appear to require further public health study.

The paper was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Pennsylvania. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Pennsylvania. "Formula To Gauge Risk Of Disease Clusters Developed." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 August 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070816151640.htm>.
University of Pennsylvania. (2007, August 17). Formula To Gauge Risk Of Disease Clusters Developed. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070816151640.htm
University of Pennsylvania. "Formula To Gauge Risk Of Disease Clusters Developed." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070816151640.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Some Positive Ebola News: Outbreak 'Contained' In Nigeria

Some Positive Ebola News: Outbreak 'Contained' In Nigeria

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) The CDC says a new case of Ebola has not been reported in Nigeria for more than 21 days, leading to hopes the outbreak might be nearing its end. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN Ebola Mission Head: Immediate Action Is Crucial

UN Ebola Mission Head: Immediate Action Is Crucial

AFP (Sep. 30, 2014) The newly appointed head of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), Anthony Banbury, outlines operations to tackle the virus. Duration: 00:39 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Confirms First Case of Ebola in US

CDC Confirms First Case of Ebola in US

AP (Sep. 30, 2014) The CDC has confirmed the first diagnosed case of Ebola in the United States. The patient is being treated at a Dallas hospital after traveling earlier this month from Liberia. (Sept. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Breast Cancer Drug Extends Lives In Clinical Trial

New Breast Cancer Drug Extends Lives In Clinical Trial

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) In a clinical trial, breast cancer patients lived an average of 15 months longer when they received new drug Perjeta along with Herceptin. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins