Oakland University
Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Anna Spagnuolo publishes a mathematical model describing cholera dynamics

Cholera is caused by a bacterial infection, and results in severe and sometimes deadly diarrhea. It is often transmitted by contaminated water, and outbreaks are common following natural disasters that foul the water supply, such as the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Cholera is also historically important because it was one of the first diseases studied using epidemiological methods by the English doctor John Snow in 1854.

How much do scientists know about cholera? They don’t know much about how cholera exists and moves within the small intestine, motivating Associate Professor Anna Spagnuolo, of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, to develop a sophisticated mathematical model of cholera dynamics. Spagnuolo, along with collaborators from the University of Michigan, recently published a paper describing A model for Vibrio cholerae colonization of the human intestine in the November issue of the Journal of Theoretical Biology (Volume 289, Pages 247–258). They write
“we have developed a novel mathematical model describing the dynamics of V. cholerae in the human intestine. Our overall objective is to gain an understanding of the mechanisms that control the interaction between V. cholerae and the human host. Elaboration of processes that allow the microbe to sense and respond to its host environment will allow us to apply the model to explore antimicrobial therapies. These therapies could be aimed, for example, at blocking bacterial mechanisms as well as manipulating physical forces acting on the microbe as it establishes itself in the host.”
It is interesting that more than 150 years after Dr. Snow first identified how cholera spreads, we finally have a mathematical model that may help improve therapies to combat this viscous disease.

The work was supported in part by Spagnuolo’s grant from the National Science Foundation.
Associate Professor published a paper in the Journal of Theoretical Biology about the dynamics of cholera.

Created by Brad Roth (roth@oakland.edu) on Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Modified by Brad Roth (roth@oakland.edu) on Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Article Start Date: Wednesday, November 16, 2011