The diffusion model and influenza pandemics

Wow!  This animated influenza spread reminds me of the global zombie diffusion from major cities into the countryside in the special features of Z. Snyder’s, 2004, “Dawn of the Dead”; a tribute to Romero’s 1977 movie of the same title.  Instead of zombies, this paper is a case study of the 1957 influenza epidemic in Northern England.  The paper relates the spread of the disease to the diffusion model.  The initial outbreak started in the tightly packed, crowded cities and, via the expansion and relocation of the population, eventually spread into the rural surrounding areas.   As the areas outside the cities became less densely populated in respect to distance from the city of origin, the rate of infection slowed down significantly.  Only after a few months did the disease finally reach the furthest and most rural outposts of the immediate area. 

The diffusion model of epidemic spread can easily be correlated to the expansion of new technologies.  The cities usually house the innovators and early adapters.  Here the buzz of a new technology easily spreads, like a disease, by word of mouth, media advertising channels or direct use.  As one further distances oneself from the cities, the major hubs, news begins to slow down as the distance increases and the population decreases.  The furthest most rural areas can be seen as the laggards in regards to new technology adoption. 

Supplemental reading for week 4: Diffusion model and influenza pandemics .

Thomas Troisch (zombie expert)

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