Early detection of bioterrorism: Monitoring disease diffusion through a multilayered network

Inbal Yahav, Sean Barnes, Bruce Golden, Edward Wasil

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Bioterrorism is a significant threat to the United States. Biological agents such as anthrax and viral hemorrhagic fever may present symptoms in the human population in a similar manner as more common illnesses such as a cold or flu. As a result, a bioterrorism attack that uses one of these biological agents would be difficult to quickly distinguish from a seasonal flu outbreak. We propose a conceptual framework for differentiating between bioterrorism and epidemic scenarios by monitoring disease diffusion in a population. We model a human population and the locations they visit as a multilayered network and simulate the spread of a disease in the two scenarios. Then, we use functional principal components analysis to characterize disease transmission. We show that our method accurately predicts a bioterrorism event for several types of populations and provides a warning of an attack when only a small proportion of the population is infected.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
StatePublished - 2013
EventIIE Annual Conference and Expo 2013 - San Juan, Puerto Rico
Duration: 18 May 201322 May 2013


ConferenceIIE Annual Conference and Expo 2013
Country/TerritoryPuerto Rico
CitySan Juan


  • Disease surveillance
  • Health care
  • Networks
  • Simulation

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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