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Take one student with measles and plunk him or her down in an area where measles vaccination rates have dropped 10 percent overall.

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What would happen?

It’s a question Dr. Karen Liller, a USF COPH professor of community and family health, posed to Dr. Mark Roberts, a professor and chair at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health and director of the university’s Public Health Dynamics Laboratory.

Roberts and his team developed a simulator called FRED (Framework for Reconstructing Epidemiological Dynamics). FRED takes vaccination rates—both real and hypothetical—and shows possible outbreaks following the introduction of a single measles case in a selected U.S. city.

For the Florida experiment, Roberts input data collected by Liller from the Florida Department of Health school immunization records. The simulator showed what would happen over a nine-month period if one student with measles went about life in an area where current vaccination rates held steady—and then in an area where the rates dropped by 10 percent.

When the vaccination rate dipped, the increase in cases—which the simulator showed spreading wildly in the first few months before dropping off—was dramatic.

Read more at USF COPH

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