Modelling disease outbreaks in realistic urban social networks

Eubank S., Guclu H. , Kumar V., Marathe M., Srinivasan A., Toroczkai Z., ...More

NATURE, vol.429, no.6988, pp.180-184, 2004 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 429 Issue: 6988
  • Publication Date: 2004
  • Doi Number: 10.1038/nature02541
  • Title of Journal : NATURE
  • Page Numbers: pp.180-184


Most mathematical models for the spread of disease use differential equations based on uniformmixing assumptions(1) or ad hoc models for the contact process(2-4). Here we explore the use of dynamic bipartite graphs to model the physical contact patterns that result from movements of individuals between specific locations. The graphs are generated by large-scale individual-based urban traffic simulations built on actual census, land-use and population-mobility data. We find that the contact network among people is a strongly connected small-world-like(5) graph with a well-defined scale for the degree distribution. However, the locations graph is scale-free(6), which allows highly efficient outbreak detection by placing sensors in the hubs of the locations network. Within this large-scale simulation framework, we then analyse the relative merits of several proposed mitigation strategies for smallpox spread. Our results suggest that outbreaks can be contained by a strategy of targeted vaccination combined with early detection without resorting to mass vaccination of a population.