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Creators/Authors contains: "Lloyd-Smith, James O."

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  1. Ambient temperature and humidity strongly affect inactivation rates of enveloped viruses, but a mechanistic, quantitative theory of these effects has been elusive. We measure the stability of SARS-CoV-2 on an inert surface at nine temperature and humidity conditions and develop a mechanistic model to explain and predict how temperature and humidity alter virus inactivation. We find SARS-CoV-2 survives longest at low temperatures and extreme relative humidities (RH); median estimated virus half-life is >24 hours at 10C and 40% RH, but ~1.5 hours at 27C and 65% RH. Our mechanistic model uses fundamental chemistry to explain why inactivation rate increases with increased temperature and shows a U-shaped dependence on RH. The model accurately predicts existing measurements of five different human coronaviruses, suggesting that shared mechanisms may affect stability for many viruses. The results indicate scenarios of high transmission risk, point to mitigation strategies, and advance the mechanistic study of virus transmission.
  2. During outbreaks of high-consequence pathogens, airport screening programs have been deployed to curtail geographic spread of infection. The effectiveness of screening depends on several factors, including pathogen natural history and epidemiology, human behavior, and characteristics of the source epidemic. We developed a mathematical model to understand how these factors combine to influence screening outcomes. We analyzed screening programs for six emerging pathogens in the early and late stages of an epidemic. We show that the effectiveness of different screening tools depends strongly on pathogen natural history and epidemiological features, as well as human factors in implementation and compliance. For pathogens with longer incubation periods, exposure risk detection dominates in growing epidemics, while fever becomes a better target in stable or declining epidemics. For pathogens with short incubation, fever screening drives detection in any epidemic stage. However, even in the most optimistic scenario arrival screening will miss the majority of cases.

  3. The controversy surrounding 'gain-of-function' experiments on high-consequence avian influenza viruses has highlighted the role of ferret transmission experiments in studying the transmission potential of novel influenza strains. However, the mapping between influenza transmission in ferrets and in humans is unsubstantiated. We address this gap by compiling and analyzing 240 estimates of influenza transmission in ferrets and humans. We demonstrate that estimates of ferret secondary attack rate (SAR) explain 66% of the variation in human SAR estimates at the subtype level. Further analysis shows that ferret transmission experiments have potential to identify influenza viruses of concern for epidemic spread in humans, though small sample sizes and biological uncertainties prevent definitive classification of human transmissibility. Thus, ferret transmission experiments provide valid predictions of pandemic potential of novel influenza strains, though results should continue to be corroborated by targeted virological and epidemiological research.