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Controlling the Spread of Contagious Disease in an Operational Environment

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Technical Report

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Institute for Defense Analyses Alexandria

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Should an operationally significant outbreak of infectious disease occur during an ongoing military operation, US and Joint Force Commanders may consider a variety of measures to limit the spread of the outbreak and minimize its impact on operations and on the health of the force. The selection of any measure or set of measures will depend on a variety of factors, including the type of operation, the availability and effectiveness of outbreak control measures, and the potential operational degradation due to outbreak controls. This paper assesses the potential costs and benefits of a variety of outbreak control measures, including medical countermeasures and restrictions of movement, and considers the influence of several operational challenges and disease characteristics on the outcome. From this assessment, the paper derives a set of generalized rules of thumb to support commanders in selecting outbreak controls.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
  • Microbiology

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