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Quantification of the Effects of Age on the Dose Response of Variola major in Suckling Mice

Abstract

Dose-response data for Variola major (V. major), the causative agent of smallpox, were obtained from the open literature, summarized, and fitted with three dose-response models. It is known from prior outbreak experience that there is generally a difference in infectivity of the agent and its subsequent mortality depending on the age of the patient. A source of animal dose-response data were found with age delineation for the exposure group (suckling mice, intraperitoneal exposure). This delineation was used to adapt current dose-response models to include an age dependency parameter. The degree of the models' fit to the data was ascertained using maximum likelihood estimation (MLE). The effect of host age could be described quantitatively using modifications to the beta Poisson and exponential dose-response models. The modifications improvement in the accuracy of risk prediction by 72% for the beta Poisson model and 7% for the exponential model, compared to the original (unmodified) models.

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