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Ekaterinburg (Екатеринбург)

Category: Data Analysis
Suitable for Grade Level: Elementary and Secondary

The Math in this Problem:

Operations Research is a branch in mathematics, which uses skilled methods to obtain optimal decisions to problems. These include those concerned with minimizing costs or maximizing profits, which are also correlated with amount of time research takes.  In this investigation, students are presented with the challenge of strategic planning and carefully allotting the time it takes to thoroughly complete a research project.

In 1979 death struck the city of Ekaterinburg. Without warning, people suddenly started to get sick. At least 94 people were stricken and at least 64 died over a period of six weeks.

The Soviet version of events maintained maintained that there was an outbreak of Anthrax on farms close to Ekaterinburg. Infected sheep and cows had entered the food processing chain and the meat ended up being sold in Ekaterinburg. The deaths in the human population resulted when the people ate this tainted meat.

The Western democracies were not sure if this explanation made sense since the outbreak seemed faster and more deadly than they would have expected.

You are sent in to discretely interview surviving family members, farmers, or veterinarians to find out what happened. Can you find out what happened before your trip is over (30 days)?

2 days: Research Anthrax

Researching Anthrax, you find that is an acute infectious disease caused by the bacteria Bacillus anthracis (below left) and is highly lethal in its most virulent form. Anthrax most commonly occurs in wild and domestic herbivores, but it can also occur in humans when they

  1. touch infected animals (most common)
  2. eat meat from infected animals
  3. inhale high concentrations of anthrax spores

There are no cases of people who got sick through contact with a diseased person. The word anthrax is derived from the Greek word anthrakis, which means ” coal “, and is used because victims develop black skin lesions (below right).

2 days: Research about the Anthrax outbreak on the farms

Veterinarians in the countryside South East of Ekaterinburg reported multiple deaths of sheep and cows due to Anthrax.

Documents indicate that a large forced slaughter of sheep had occured on March 28 in Rudniy, a town in the centre of the animal epedemic.

Interview the farmers whose livestock had died of Anthrax. (5 days)

The red towns are one where veterinarians reported Anthrax deaths in sheep and cows. No deaths of livestock were reported in the other 16 towns on the map.

The earliest deaths that you could confirm through interviewing farmers were a pair of sheep on April 5th. Your interviews with farmers and vetinarians revealed that on April 10th, 298 sheep were given anti-anthrax serum in Abramovo after 7 sheep and a cow had died there. You interviewed farmers and vetinarians in other towns and confirmed livestock deaths in the six towns shown.

Documents indicate that a large forced slaughter of sheep had occured on March 28 in Rudniy. Certainly a large number of sheep were killed in the farms around this village, but there is disagreement among farmers about when this happened. A couple agree that it happened on March 28, but most insist it was more than a week later.

There were no human deaths in any of these villages.

Interview the butchers in Ekaterinburg who sold meat from this area. (5 days)

Eight Butchers sold meat from the infected area. Of the 64 people who died, nearly all of them got their meat from a butcher called “Potyr” or the most southerly of a chain of 4 stores called “Ek”

ButcherNumber of customersPercent of Beef and Lamb from infected areaNumber of deaths among regular customers
M11 (Potyr’s)500020%48
J14 (Ek#3)200020%11
J4 (Basyl’s)200020%2
K7 (Baba’s)500020%1
K14 (Ivan’s)500050%1
R5 (Ek#1)200020%0
F5 (Ek#2)200020%0
P1 (Ek#4)200020%0

There is a map below if you wish to plot the position of the listed butchers.

The map is of the Southern part of Ekaterinburg because all of the butchers that sold the potentially infected meat were in the Southerly part of Ekaterinburg.

2 days: Interview the Soviet official in charge of Ekateringburg’s emergency relief

The Soviet official is very helpful in helping you pack your bags and leave Ekaterinburg for Moscow and from Moscow to the West. Your exploration of this problem is over.

In 1979, the world was in the middle of the Cold War between the Western democracies led by the U.S. and the Soviet Union with her East bloc allies. The soviet official did not want you poking around.

2 days : Research the weather in Ekateringburg during the time of the epidemic
Temperature is measured in degrees Celsius.
2 days: Research the apartment buildings around Ekateringburg

In 1979 the apartment buildings in Ekaterinburg are noticably drab, but this one is made exciting by a mural.

Three of the dead people (Volodymyr, aged 43, Roman, aged 27, and Simon, aged 28) lived on the Northern side (the side shown) of this apartment building. The building held many researchers working with the military.

2 days: Research the fashion trends in Ekateringburg

In 1979, the people in Ekaterinburg are not at the height of fashion, but are helpful and warmhearted. There are exceptions: After 2 days, you snap a photo of the trendy woman (right) in downtown Ekaterinburg.

20 days: Interview family members of those who died

After 20 days of research you have established (from talking to friends, family and peers) the following information about 64 of the people who died in the epidemic. There is a map below if you wish to plot any of the results.

English NameAgeGenderDate of hospitalizationWeeks of hospitalization before DeathButcher’s AddressHome AddressWork
1Anna24FApril 33J14 (Ek#3)L14
2Antonina44FApril 32M11(Potyr’s)L12L13(Restaurant)
3Anfisa56FApril 31M11(Potyr’s)M14
4Polina39FApril 31M11(Potyr’s)K12K12(Commercial Store)
5Valeriya72FApril 31M11(Potyr’s)M14
6Veronika40FApril 41M11(Potyr’s)L13L13 (Odessa Tourism)
7Galina28FApril 36M11(Potyr’s)M13
8Diana32FApril 32J14 (Ek#3)L13L13(Sverdlovsk Government Office)
9Elena47FApril 42M11(Potyr’s)L12
10Eva61FApril 32M11(Potyr’s)M14
11Zhanna61FApril 31M11(Potyr’s)K12
12Zlata69FApril 36M11(Potyr’s)L12
13Izabella50FApril 31VegetarianL14
14Iskra20FApril 31M11(Potyr’s)L12L7 (Hotel)
15Klara39FApril 32M11(Potyr’s)L12
16Kristina19FApril 42M11(Potyr’s)L13L13(Restaurant)
17Lada64FApril 31M11(Potyr’s)M14M14 (Hospital)
18Larisa47FApril 33J4 (Basyl’s)J4L13(Sverdlovsk Government Office)
19Ludmila70FApril 41M11(Potyr’s)M14
20Maya35FApril 31M11(Potyr’s)L13
21Marta53FApril 31M11(Potyr’s)N14
22Marina29FApril 32M11(Potyr’s)N6M14 (Hospital)
23Nelly38FApril 64J14 (Ek#3)L14
24Nina54FApril 31J14 (Ek#3)L14
25Olga37FApril 32K7 (Baba’s)K6L13(Sverdlovsk Government Office)
26Svetlana48FApril 42M11(Potyr’s)L12L12 (School)
27Sofia29FApril 31M11(Potyr’s)K12
28Tamara57FApril 31M11(Potyr’s)L13L13(Warehouse)
29Tatyana31FApril 43M11(Potyr’s)L12
30Florentina60FApril 43M11(Potyr’s)N14
31Elvira38FApril 31M11(Potyr’s)L12M14 (Clothing factory)
32Yaroslava34FApril 31M11(Potyr’s)M14
33Yana42FApril 31M11(Potyr’s)L13L12(Commercial Store)
34Adam38MApril 42M11(Potyr’s)K11K11 (Military Compound 19)
35Andrew40MApril 31M11(Potyr’s)M15
36Anthony39MApril 42M11(Potyr’s)L13P8 (plastics factory)
37Bogdan71MApril 31J14 (Ek#3)L14
38Demetri51MApril 54J14 (Ek#3)L12L12(Gavryusha Ceramics Factory)
39Theodore49MApril 41M11(Potyr’s)M13L12 (School)
40Gregory55MApril 31M11(Potyr’s)K11K11 (Military Compound 19)
41Ivan48MApril 32J14 (Ek#3)L14
42Cyril23MApril 31M11(Potyr’s)K11K11 (Military Compound 19)
43Mark39MApril 32M11(Potyr’s)K11K11 (Military Compound 19)
44Martin50MApril 42J14 (Ek#3)L14
45Mykhailo23MApril 41M11(Potyr’s)L13M8(manufacturing)
46Michael C.57MApril 41M11(Potyr’s)K12
47Michael J.62MApril 31M11(Potyr’s)M15
48Nicholas59MApril 31J4 (Basyl’s)J8L12(Gavryusha Ceramics Factory)
49Alexander38MApril 55M11(Potyr’s)L13M14(Ekaterinburg Cement Factory)
50Alexius50MApril 42M11(Potyr’s)M14N7 (Railyard)
51Paul43MApril 43M11(Potyr’s)L12L12(Gavryusha Ceramics Factory)
52Philip52MApril 31M11(Potyr’s)M14L10 (Car Factory)
53Roman27MApril 31M11(Potyr’s)K11K11 (Military Compound 19)
54Simon28MApril 31M11(Potyr’s)K11K11 (Military Compound 19)
55Basil40MApril 32M11(Potyr’s)N14L13(Sverdlovsk Government Office)
56Victor40MApril 42M11(Potyr’s)L12
57Vladimir M.46MApril 31J14 (Ek#3)L15L14(Engineering Firm)
58Vladimir P.51MApril 42K14(Ivan’s)H14L12(Gavryusha Ceramics Factory)
59Vasyl49MApril 43J14 (Ek#3)L14
60Volodymyr43MApril 32M11(Potyr’s)K11K11 (Military Compound 19)
61Jacob58MApril 31M11(Potyr’s)K12M14(Ekaterinburg Cement Factory)
62Eugene24MApril 42J14 (Ek#3)L13N12 (School)
63Joseph45MApril 42M11(Potyr’s)L13N7 (Railyard)
64Yana53MApril 31M11(Potyr’s)M14J7(Ekaterinburg University)
The map is of the Southern part of Ekaterinburg because all of the deaths happened in the Southerly part of Ekaterinburg.