Simul. Model. Pract. Theory

Investigating spatiotemporal dynamics and synchrony of influenza epidemics in Australia: An agent-based modelling approach

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In this paper we present ACEMod, an agent-based modelling framework for studying influenza epidemics in Australia. The simulator is designed to analyse the spatiotemporal spread of contagion and influenza spatial synchrony across the nation. The individual-based epidemiological model accounts for mobility (worker and student commuting) patterns and human interactions derived from the 2006 Australian census and other national data sources. The high-precision simulation comprises 19.8 million stochastically generated software agents and traces the dynamics of influenza viral infection and transmission at several scales. Using this approach, we are able to synthesise epidemics in Australia with varying outbreak locations and severity. For each scenario, we investigate the spatiotemporal profiles of these epidemics, both qualitatively and quantitatively, via incidence curves, prevalence choropleths, and epidemic synchrony. This analysis exemplifies the nature of influenza pandemics within Australia and facilitates future planning of effective intervention, mitigation and crisis management strategies.