The mathematics of chlamydia's spread

Feb 03, 2014 by Niki Widdowson
One maths brain multiplied by many = Chlamydia problem solution

(Phys.org) —It sounds an unlikely pairing: using maths to combat the spread of a sexually transmitted disease that can lead to infertility, but a group of mathematicians has delivered a solution that enables health professionals to target resources to help curb the disease.

About 80,000 people are diagnosed with Chlamydia each year in Australia, and a record number of people are being tested for a disease that goes largely undetected until it has caused reproductive damage, said Associate Professor David Wilson, who heads the Surveillance and Evaluation Program for Public Health of the Kirby Institute which researches infection and immunity rates.

"While there was plenty of data the question remained as to how many new Chlamydia infections there are each year," Professor Wilson said.

"We needed to know how many people are contracting it each year, so that we can change national prevention and treatment strategies to priorities resources and planning for the areas where they are most needed."

Professor Wilson brought the problem and various types of data on previous rates of infection among certain age groups to the Mathematics in Industry Study Group (MISG) at QUT last year where more than 100 of Australia and New Zealand's best mathematicians and statisticians gathered to solve the thorniest challenges that government and industry could 'throw' at them.

"The Group gave us an algorithm to estimate new infections which we are using to target the sectors of the community most at risk of contracting the infection," Professor Wilson said.

This year's MISG meeting was opened Prime Minister's Prize for Science 2013 winner, Professor Terry Speed, who has used his statistical wizardry to shed light on everything from cancer research to criminology and hosted by QUT from January 28 to February 1.

MISG director, Associate Professor Troy Farrell, from QUT's Mathematical Sciences School, is an applied mathematician with extensive experience in solving technical problems in industry.

"The MISG is an ideal opportunity to showcase the practical outcomes of for improving our everyday lives," Professor Farrell said.

"Academics and researchers challenge themselves to achieve the best possible outcomes in a short amount of time for government, industry and business, so the workshop atmosphere is exciting and vibrant.

"Almost 100 business and industry partners, ranging from large multinational conglomerates to small-to-medium enterprises have sought solutions from MISG since it started in 1984.

"The group has worked on more than 150 different projects spanning sectors including mining, car manufacturing, railways and freight, manufacturing, metal processing, food and beverages, oil and gas, utilities, biomedical science, and technology.

This year mathematicians will work on six projects for a broad range of companies including:

  • identifying optimal times for cheese to be in brine
  • using seaweed to enhance ethanol production
  • designing a better drain for the flow of mining slurries
  • designing energy-efficient, all-climate patio doors for export
  • determining the complex porous structure of energy materials to enable their more efficient use
  • determining vehicle type and occupancy from travel time data to give a real-time picture of the Brisbane road network.

Explore further: Australia: Biggest jump in HIV in 20 years

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Australia: Biggest jump in HIV in 20 years

Oct 21, 2013

The number of newly diagnosed cases of HIV infection in Australia continues to rise, having increased by ten per cent in 2012 to reach 1253, the largest number in 20 years, according to the latest national ...

Warning on STIs: Australian report

Sep 27, 2011

There has been an alarming jump in some STI infections, with rates of Chlamydia up 17 percent and gonorrhoea rising 25 percent, new national surveillance figures show.

Mice help researchers understand chlamydia

Oct 29, 2007

Genetically engineered mice may hold the key to helping scientists from Queensland University of Technology and Harvard hasten the development of a vaccine to protect adolescent girls against the most common sexually transmitted ...

Recommended for you

Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

3 hours ago

Almost seven years have passed since Ontario's street-racing legislation hit the books and, according to one Western researcher, it has succeeded in putting the brakes on the number of convictions and, more importantly, injuries ...

Newlyweds, be careful what you wish for

Apr 17, 2014

A statistical analysis of the gift "fulfillments" at several hundred online wedding gift registries suggests that wedding guests are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to buying an appropriate gift for the ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

Almost seven years have passed since Ontario's street-racing legislation hit the books and, according to one Western researcher, it has succeeded in putting the brakes on the number of convictions and, more importantly, injuries ...

Continents may be a key feature of Super-Earths

Huge Earth-like planets that have both continents and oceans may be better at harboring extraterrestrial life than those that are water-only worlds. A new study gives hope for the possibility that many super-Earth ...

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...

Under some LED bulbs whites aren't 'whiter than white'

For years, companies have been adding whiteners to laundry detergent, paints, plastics, paper and fabrics to make whites look "whiter than white," but now, with a switch away from incandescent and fluorescent lighting, different ...