Concentration Area: Disaster Medicine and Response
- Authors: Ryan Tai BA; Selim Suner MD
- Abstract: This paper characterizes the seasonal risks of aerosolized dissemination of the H1N1 influenza virus and CDC Category A agents in New England based on seasonal fluctuations in meteorologic factors. Data on the stability of each pathogen under different gradients of relative humidity, UV radiation, and temperature were obtained through a literature search. Subsequently, the optimal ranges of meteorologic conditions for the survival of each aerosolized pathogen were determined. Cumulative meteorologic data for Boston in 2007 was obtained from the National Weather Service; subsequently, the times at which the optimal ranges of meteorologic conditions for each pathogen occur were correlated.
The risk of successful aerosolized dissemination of CDC Category A agents and the H1N1 influenza virus is greater during the winter in New England. Lower levels of relative humidity, temperature, and UV radiation promote biological survival of the studied pathogens. In addition, physical factors such as high wind speeds and stronger temperature inversion effect during winter can prolong the presence of infectious particles within the breathable ranges of the atmosphere. Understanding the seasonal variations in the risk of dissemination of aerosolized pathogens can be useful when making decisions concerning the allocation of medical resources to mitigate the consequences of a bioterror attack.