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Monitoring of Plague Foci


Monitoring of Quantitative and Qualitative Parameters of the Pre-Balkhash Natural Autonomous Plague Focus

Tech Area / Field

  • ENV-MRA/Modelling and Risk Assessment/Environment
  • MED-DIS/Disease Surveillance/Medicine
  • AGR-DIS/Disease Surveillance/Agriculture
  • BIO-MIB/Microbiology/Biotechnology

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
Institute of Informatics and Control Problems, Kazakstan, Almaty

Supporting institutes

  • Kazakh Scientific Center for Quarantine and Zoonotic Diseases, Kazakstan, Almaty


  • University of Oslo, Norway, Oslo\nInstitut Pasteur, France, Paris\nUniversiteit Antwerpen, Belgium, Antwerpen\nVantaa Research Centre, Forest Research Institute, Finland, Vantaa

Project summary

Natural plague foci in Kazakhstan cover an area of 130 million hectares and over the past 50 years they have been considered the most active plague foci in the world. Today the anti-plague service in Kazakhstan is working under conditions of gross financial and organization difficulties. Against the background of general deterioration in medical attendance of the population the epidemiological surveillance in plague foci has become rather irregular, the prophylactic anti-plague measures which used to ensure control of the situation and prevent mass risk of infection for man have been significantly reduced. Recently, local and foreign workers have increased the level of human activity in the natural foci regions, often in connection with an intensive exploitation of natural resources (for example, gas and oil). These activities are often organized by multinational companies, which increases the probability of plague cases being exported abroad.

In 1999, in Kazakhstan, the unusual hight epizootic activity was found in all natural plague foci. On this background, the risk of human infection grew in the extreme. In the previous years we had not more than 1 annual human case, but in 1999 we noted 8 human cases, 3 persons died, amongst them Shonayev Ruslan (age of 13) died on 8 August 1999. Provisional diagnosis: left-sided inguinal lymphadenitis, meningitis, bubonic-septic form of the plague.

Plague foci in Kazakhstan covering vast territories are characterized by different regulation mechanisms at the population, species and community (biocenotic) levels and they have not been studied with a systematic approach. The behavior of particular subsystems of the plague epizootic triad (agent-host-vector), the entire epizootic process in foci taking into consideration the complicated interrelations of the above subsystems have not been thoroughly investigated.

The plague epizootic process is a complex multicomponent dynamic system. Studying and understanding it requires a systematic approach and joint efforts of physicians, microbiologists, ecologists, mathematicians and computer programmers. This will provide the basis for a modern system for monitoring of quantitative and qualitative parameters of plague infection in natural foci in the Republic of Kazakhstan.

The first international co-ordination meeting on Project K-159 was held in Copenhagen in January 11-13, 1999. Taking part in it were the representatives of:

The EU-commission DG -XII (Michel Pletschette, Nicole Bounaga), the Danish Pest Infestation Laboratory (Nils Bille, Herwig Leirs, Ole Kilpinen), University of Oslo (Nils Christian Stenseth), Finnish Forest research Institute (Heikki Henntonen), Institute Pasteur (Elisabeth Carniel), Institute of Informatics and Control Problems (Abdukappar A. Ashimov, Svetlana P. Sokolova), the Kazakh Anti-Plague Research Institute (Alim M. Aikimbayev, Vladimir S. Ageyev, Sergei B. Pole).

The existing status of epidemiological research in Kazakhstan has been discussed at the conference. The scientists have worked out plans for the implementation of the project.

The meeting discussed the present status of the plague epidemiology research in Kazakhstan and the plans for the execution of the project. It was generally concluded that there is an impressive amount of knowledge and data present and that the project has good potentialities for coming with very interesting insights on epidemiology and ecology of plague in the natural foci.

The following scientific results have been obtained during the implementation of the first stage of Project K-159-98:

1. The aggregates of the significant affecting factors and the set of characteristics of processes taking place in populations (agents, hosts and vectors), the epizootic processes and the epidemiological characteristics of the natural large gerbil plague focus have been revealed.

2. The processes taking place in populations, the epizootic processes and the epidemic characteristics of the natural large gerbil plague focus have been presented in a systematic way which will allow formal modelling.

3. The local representation of data on the materials of processes, taking place in populations, the epizootic processes and epidemic characteristics has been designed.

The aim of the Second Stage of the Project:

- the development of methods of structuring the complex of dynamic mathematical models (stochastic, continued , discrete and interval) of the epizootic processes taking place in the Pre-Balkhash autonomous plague focus;

- the formation and support of data and knowledge on the dynamics of the qualitative and quantitative parameters of many-years standing of the biotic components of the epizootic triad;

- the development of active monitoring of the epizootic and epidemic situation in natural plague foci on the basis of Artificial Immune System.

The monitoring system will make possible:

- to reveal the factors which determine the level of epizootic activity in different sections of natural nidality;

- to differentiate the focal area according to its epidemiological significance;

- to create prognostic mathematical models making it possible to obtain early assessment of the situation in foci and give recommendations for making decisions at different managerial levels;

- to develop of a new field of computer science - Artificial Immune System (AIS).


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