The increasing Internet coverage and the widespread use of digital devices offer the possibility to develop new digital surveillance systems potentially capable to provide important aid to epidemiological and public health monitoring and research. In France, a new nationwide surveillance system for influenza-like illness, GrippeNet.fr, was introduced since the 2011/2012 season based on an online participatory mechanism and open to the general population. We evaluate the recruitment and participation of users to the first pilot season with respect to similar efforts in Europe to assess the feasibility of establishing a participative network of surveillance in France. We further investigate the representativeness of the GrippeNet.fr population along a set of indicators on geographical, demographic, socio-economic and health aspects. Participation was widespread in the country and with rates comparable to other European countries with partnered projects running since a longer time. It was not representative of the general population in terms of age and gender, however all age classes were represented, including the older classes (65+ years old), generally less familiar with the digital world, but considered at high risk for influenza complications. Once adjusted on demographic indicators, the GrippeNet.fr population is found to be more frequently employed, with a higher education level and vaccination rate with respect to the general population. A similar propensity to commute for work to different regions was observed, and no significant difference was found for asthma and diabetes. Results show the feasibility of the system, provide indications to inform adjusted epidemic analyses, and highlight the presence of specific population groups that need to be addressed by targeted communication strategies to achieve a higher representativeness in the following seasons.
Interactions among multiple infectious agents are increasingly recognized as a fundamental issue in the understanding of key questions in public health regarding pathogen emergence, maintenance, and evolution. The full description of host-multipathogen systems is, however, challenged by the multiplicity of factors affecting the interaction dynamics and the resulting competition that may occur at different scales, from the within-host scale to the spatial structure and mobility of the host population. Here we study the dynamics of two competing pathogens in a structured host population and assess the impact of the mobility pattern of hosts on the pathogen competition. We model the spatial structure of the host population in terms of a metapopulation network and focus on two strains imported locally in the system and having the same transmission potential but different infectious periods. We find different scenarios leading to competitive success of either one of the strain or to the codominance of both strains in the system. The dominance of the strain characterized by the shorter or longer infectious period depends exclusively on the structure of the population and on the the mobility of hosts across patches. The proposed modeling framework allows the integration of other relevant epidemiological, environmental and demographic factors, opening the path to further mathematical and computational studies of the dynamics of multipathogen systems.
When multiple infectious agents circulate in a given population of hosts, they interact for the exploitation of susceptible hosts aimed at pathogen survival and maintenance. Such interaction is ruled by the combination of different mechanisms related to the biology of host-pathogen interaction, environmental conditions and host demography and behavior. We focus on pathogen competition and we investigate whether the mobility of hosts in a spatially structured environment can act as a selective driver for pathogen circulation. We use mathematical and computational models for disease transmission between hosts and for the mobility of hosts to study the competition between two pathogens providing each other full cross-immunity after infection. Depending on the rate of migration of hosts, competition results in the dominance of either one of the pathogens at the spatial level – though the two infectious agents are characterized by the same invasion potential at the single population scale – or cocirculation of both. These results highlight the importance of explicitly accounting for the spatial scale and for the different time scales involved (i.e. host mobility and spreading dynamics of the two pathogens) in the study of host-multipathogen systems.
In 2006 and 2007 pig farming in the region of Lombardy, in the north of Italy, was struck by an epidemic of Swine Vesicular Disease virus (SVDV). In fact this epidemic could be viewed as consisting of two sub-epidemics, as the reported outbreaks occurred in two separate time periods. These periods differed in terms of the provinces or municipalities that were affected and also in terms of the timing of implementation of movement restrictions. Here we use a simple mathematical model to analyse the epidemic data, quantifying between-farm transmission probability as a function of between-farm distance. The results show that the distance dependence of between-farm transmission differs between the two periods. In the first period transmission over relatively long distances occurred with higher probability than in the second period, reflecting the effect of movement restrictions in the second period. In the second period however, more intensive transmission occurred over relatively short distances. Our model analysis explains this in terms of the relatively high density of pig farms in the area most affected in this period, which exceeds a critical farm density for between-farm transmission. This latter result supports the rationale for the additional control measure taken in 2007 of pre-emptively culling farms in that area.
Empiric quantification of human mobility patterns is paramount for better urban planning, understanding social network structure and responding to infectious disease threats, especially in light of rapid growth in urbanization and globalization. This need is of particular relevance for developing countries, since they host the majority of the global urban population and are disproportionally affected by the burden of disease. We used Global Positioning System (GPS) data-loggers to track the fine-scale (within city) mobility patterns of 582 residents from two neighborhoods from the city of Iquitos, Peru. We used ∼2.3 million GPS data-points to quantify age-specific mobility parameters and dynamic co-location networks among all tracked individuals. Geographic space significantly affected human mobility, giving rise to highly local mobility kernels. Most (∼80%) movements occurred within 1 km of an individual’s home. Potential hourly contacts among individuals were highly irregular and temporally unstructured. Only up to 38% of the tracked participants showed a regular and predictable mobility routine, a sharp contrast to the situation in the developed world. As a case study, we quantified the impact of spatially and temporally unstructured routines on the dynamics of transmission of an influenza-like pathogen within an Iquitos neighborhood. Temporally unstructured daily routines (e.g., not dominated by a single location, such as a workplace, where an individual repeatedly spent significant amount of time) increased an epidemic’s final size and effective reproduction number by 20% in comparison to scenarios modeling temporally structured contacts. Our findings provide a mechanistic description of the basic rules that shape human mobility within a resource-poor urban center, and contribute to the understanding of the role of fine-scale patterns of individual movement and co-location in infectious disease dynamics. More generally, this study emphasizes the need for careful consideration of human social interactions when designing infectious disease mitigation strategies, particularly within resource-poor urban environments.
We outline here the mathematical expression of a diffusion model for cellphones malware transmitted through Bluetooth channels. In particular, we provide the deterministic formula underlying the proposed infection model, in its equivalent recursive (simple but computationally heavy) and closed form (more complex but efficiently computable) expression.
Graph theoretical analysis has played a key role in characterizing global features of the topology of complex networks, describing diverse systems such as protein interactions, food webs, social relations and brain connectivity. How system elements communicate with each other depends not only on the structure of the network, but also on the nature of the system's dynamics which are constrained by the amount of knowledge and resources available for communication processes. Complementing widely used measures that capture efficiency under the assumption that communication preferentially follows shortest paths across the network (“routing”), we define analytic measures directed at characterizing network communication when signals flow in a random walk process (“diffusion”). The two dimensions of routing and diffusion efficiency define a morphospace for complex networks, with different network topologies characterized by different combinations of efficiency measures and thus occupying different regions of this space. We explore the relation of network topologies and efficiency measures by examining canonical network models, by evolving networks using a multi-objective optimization strategy, and by investigating real-world network data sets. Within the efficiency morphospace, specific aspects of network topology that differentially favor efficient communication for routing and diffusion processes are identified. Charting regions of the morphospace that are occupied by canonical, evolved or real networks allows inferences about the limits of communication efficiency imposed by connectivity and dynamics, as well as the underlying selection pressures that have shaped network topology.
Conservation biologists, as well as veterinary and public health officials, would benefit greatly from being able to forecast whether outbreaks of infectious disease will be major. For values of the basic reproductive number (R0) between one and two, infectious disease outbreaks have a reasonable chance of either fading out at an early stage or, in the absence of intervention, spreading widely within the population. If it were possible to predict when fadeout was likely to occur, the need for costly precautionary control strategies could be minimized. However, the predictability of even simple epidemic processes remains largely unexplored. Here we conduct an examination of simulated data from the early stages of a fatal disease outbreak and explore how observable information might be useful for predicting major outbreaks. Specifically, would knowing the time of deaths for the first few cases allow us to predict whether an outbreak will be major? Using two approaches, trajectory matching and discriminant function analysis, we find that even in our best-case scenario (with accurate knowledge of epidemiological parameters, and precise times of death), it was not possible to reliably predict the outcome of a stochastic Susceptible-Exposed–Infectious-Recovered (SEIR) process.
The dynamics of infectious diseases that are spread through direct contact have been proven to depend on the strength of community structure or modularity within the underlying network. It has been recently shown that weighted networks with similar modularity values may exhibit different mixing styles regarding the number of connections among communities and their respective weights. However, the effect of mixing style on epidemic behavior was still unclear. In this paper, we simulate the spread of disease within networks with different mixing styles: a dense-weak style (i.e., many edges among the communities with small weights) and a sparse-strong style (i.e., a few edges among the communities with large weights). Simulation results show that, with the same modularity: 1) the mixing style significantly influences the epidemic size, speed, pattern and immunization strategy; 2) the increase of the number of communities amplifies the effect of the mixing style; 3) when the mixing style changes from sparse-strong to dense-weak, there is a ‘saturation point’, after which the epidemic size and pattern become stable. We also provide a mean-field solution of the epidemic threshold and size on weighted community networks with arbitrary external and internal degree distribution. The solution explains the effect of the second moment of the degree distribution, and a symmetric effect of internal and external connections (incl. degree distribution and weight). Our study has both potential significance for designing more accurate metrics for the community structure and exploring diffusion dynamics on metapopulation networks.
Many networks exhibit time-dependent topologies, where an edge only exists during a certain period of time. The first measurements of such networks are very recent so that a profound theoretical understanding is still lacking. In this work, we focus on the propagation properties of infectious diseases in time-dependent networks. In particular, we analyze a dataset containing livestock trade movements. The corresponding networks are known to be a major route for the spread of animal diseases. In this context chronology is crucial. A disease can only spread if the temporal sequence of trade contacts forms a chain of causality. Therefore, the identification of relevant nodes under time-varying network topologies is of great interest for the implementation of counteractions.
We find that a time-aggregated approach might fail to identify epidemiologically relevant nodes. Hence, we explore the adaptability of the concept of centrality of nodes to temporal networks using a data-driven approach on the example of animal trade. We utilize the size of the in- and out-component of nodes as centrality measures. Both measures are refined to gain full awareness of the time-dependent topology and finite infectious periods. We show that the size of the components exhibit strong temporal heterogeneities. In particular, we find that the size of the components is overestimated in time-aggregated networks. For disease control, however, a risk assessment independent of time and specific disease properties is usually favored. We therefore explore the disease parameter range, in which a time-independent identification of central nodes remains possible.
We find a ranking of nodes according to their component sizes reasonably stable for a wide range of infectious periods. Samples based on this ranking are robust enough against varying disease parameters and hence are promising tools for disease control.
For years, emerging infectious diseases have appeared worldwide and threatened the health of people. The emergence and spread of an infectious-disease outbreak are usually unforeseen, and have the features of suddenness and uncertainty. Timely understanding of basic information in the field, and the collection and analysis of epidemiological information, is helpful in making rapid decisions and responding to an infectious-disease emergency. Therefore, it is necessary to have an unobstructed channel and convenient tool for the collection and analysis of epidemiologic information in the field.
Baseline information for each county in mainland China was collected and a database was established by geo-coding information on a digital map of county boundaries throughout the country. Google Maps was used to display geographic information and to conduct calculations related to maps, and the 3G wireless network was used to transmit information collected in the field to the server. This study established a decision support system for the response to infectious-disease emergencies based on WebGIS and mobile services (DSSRIDE). The DSSRIDE provides functions including data collection, communication and analyses in real time, epidemiological detection, the provision of customized epidemiological questionnaires and guides for handling infectious disease emergencies, and the querying of professional knowledge in the field. These functions of the DSSRIDE could be helpful for epidemiological investigations in the field and the handling of infectious-disease emergencies.
The DSSRIDE provides a geographic information platform based on the Google Maps application programming interface to display information of infectious disease emergencies, and transfers information between workers in the field and decision makers through wireless transmission based on personal computers, mobile phones and personal digital assistants. After a 2-year practice and application in infectious disease emergencies, the DSSRIDE is becoming a useful platform and is a useful tool for investigations in the field carried out by response sections and individuals. The system is suitable for use in developing countries and low-income districts.
Mathematical and computational models for infectious diseases are increasingly used to support public-health decisions; however, their reliability is currently under debate. Real-time forecasts of epidemic spread using data-driven models have been hindered by the technical challenges posed by parameter estimation and validation. Data gathered for the 2009 H1N1 influenza crisis represent an unprecedented opportunity to validate real-time model predictions and define the main success criteria for different approaches.
We used the Global Epidemic and Mobility Model to generate stochastic simulations of epidemic spread worldwide, yielding (among other measures) the incidence and seeding events at a daily resolution for 3,362 subpopulations in 220 countries. Using a Monte Carlo Maximum Likelihood analysis, the model provided an estimate of the seasonal transmission potential during the early phase of the H1N1 pandemic and generated ensemble forecasts for the activity peaks in the northern hemisphere in the fall/winter wave. These results were validated against the real-life surveillance data collected in 48 countries, and their robustness assessed by focusing on 1) the peak timing of the pandemic; 2) the level of spatial resolution allowed by the model; and 3) the clinical attack rate and the effectiveness of the vaccine. In addition, we studied the effect of data incompleteness on the prediction reliability.
Real-time predictions of the peak timing are found to be in good agreement with the empirical data, showing strong robustness to data that may not be accessible in real time (such as pre-exposure immunity and adherence to vaccination campaigns), but that affect the predictions for the attack rates. The timing and spatial unfolding of the pandemic are critically sensitive to the level of mobility data integrated into the model.
Our results show that large-scale models can be used to provide valuable real-time forecasts of influenza spreading, but they require high-performance computing. The quality of the forecast depends on the level of data integration, thus stressing the need for high-quality data in population-based models, and of progressive updates of validated available empirical knowledge to inform these models.
computational epidemiology; H1N1 influenza pandemic; prediction; validation.
In a context of pesticide use reduction, alternatives to chemical-based crop protection strategies are needed to control diseases. Crop and plant architectures can be viewed as levers to control disease outbreaks by affecting microclimate within the canopy or pathogen transmission between plants. Modeling and simulation is a key approach to help analyze the behaviour of such systems where direct observations are difficult and tedious. Modeling permits the joining of concepts from ecophysiology and epidemiology to define structures and functions generic enough to describe a wide range of epidemiological dynamics. Additionally, this conception should minimize computing time by both limiting the complexity and setting an efficient software implementation. In this paper, our aim was to present a model that suited these constraints so it could first be used as a research and teaching tool to promote discussions about epidemic management in cropping systems. The system was modelled as a combination of individual hosts (population of plants or organs) and infectious agents (pathogens) whose contacts are restricted through a network of connections. The system dynamics were described at an individual scale. Additional attention was given to the identification of generic properties of host-pathogen systems to widen the model's applicability domain. Two specific pathosystems with contrasted crop architectures were considered: ascochyta blight on pea (homogeneously layered canopy) and potato late blight (lattice of individualized plants). The model behavior was assessed by simulation and sensitivity analysis and these results were discussed against the model ability to discriminate between the defined types of epidemics. Crop traits related to disease avoidance resulting in a low exposure, a slow dispersal or a de-synchronization of plant and pathogen cycles were shown to strongly impact the disease severity at the crop scale.
The emergence of the livestock-associated clone of meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) ST398 is a serious public health issue throughout Europe. In The Netherlands a stringent ‘search-and-destroy’ policy has been adopted, keeping low the level of MRSA prevalence. However, reports have recently emerged of transmission events between humans showing no links to livestock, contradicting belief that MRSA ST398 is poorly transmissible in humans. The question regarding the transmissibility of MRSA ST398 in humans therefore remains of great interest. Here, we investigated the capacity of MRSA ST398 to spread into an entirely susceptible human population subject to the effect of a single MRSA-positive commercial pig farm. Using a stochastic, discrete-time metapopulation model, we explored the effect of varying both the probability of persistent carriage and that of acquiring MRSA due to contact with pigs on the transmission dynamics of MRSA ST398 in humans. In particular, we assessed the value and key determinants of the basic reproduction ratio (R0) for MRSA ST398. Simulations showed that the presence of recurrent exposures with pigs in risky populations allows MRSA ST398 to persist in the metapopulation and transmission events to occur beyond the farming community, even when the probability of persistent carriage is low. We further showed that persistent carriage should occur in less than 10% of the time for MRSA ST398 to conserve epidemiological characteristics similar to what has been previously reported. These results indicate that implementing control policy that only targets human carriers may not be sufficient to control MRSA ST398 in the community if it remains in pigs. We argue that farm-level control measures should be implemented if an eradication programme is to be considered.
Awareness of individuals’ knowledge and predicting their behavior and emotional reactions is crucial when evaluating clinical preparedness for influenza pandemics with a highly pathogenic virus. Knowledge, attitude, and practice (KAP) relating to avian influenza (H5N1) virus infection among residents in communities where H5N1 patients occurred in Vietnam has not been reported.
Methods and Principal Findings
Face-to-face interviews including KAP survey were conducted in Bac Kan province, located in the northeast mountainous region of Vietnam. Participants were residents who lived in a community where H5N1 cases have ever been reported (event group, n = 322) or one where cases have not been reported (non-event group, n = 221). Data on emotional reactions of participants and healthcare-seeking behavior after the event in neighboring areas were collected as well as information on demographics and environmental measures, information sources, and KAP regarding H5N1. These data were compared between two groups. Higher environmental risk of H5N1 and improper poultry-handling behaviors were identified in the event group. At the time of the event, over 50% of the event group sought healthcare for flu-like symptoms or because they were scared. Awareness of the event influenced KAP scores. Healthcare-seeking behavior and attention to H5N1 poultry outbreaks diminished in the event group as time passed after the outbreak compared with the non-event group. Factors that motivated participants to seek healthcare sooner were knowledge of early access to healthcare and the risk of eating sick/dead poultry, and perception of the threat of H5N1.
Awareness of H5N1 patients in neighboring areas can provoke panic in residents and influence their healthcare-seeking behavior. Periodic education to share experiences on the occurrence of H5N1 patients and provide accurate information may help prevent panic and infection and reduce mortality. Local conditions should be taken into account when emphasizing the need for early access to healthcare.
The Internet has become an important venue for seeking sexual partners and may facilitate transmission of sexually transmitted infections.
We examined a 64-day data log of flirt messages expressing sexual interest among MSM within the Qruiser.com community. We used logistic regression to analyze characteristics of MSM sending and receiving flirt messages and negative binomial regression to examine individual activity and popularity. The structural properties, including the core structure of the flirt network, were analyzed.
The MSM population consisted of approximately 40% homosexuals and 37% bisexuals, while the remaining 23% included men who identified as heterosexual but searched for sex with men and “experimental”. MSM were more likely to send flirt messages if they were homosexual and aged 40+ years; young people aged < 30 years were more likely to receive a flirt. Possession of a webcam was strongly associated with both sending flirt messages and being a flirt target. The distributions of flirts sent (max kout = 2162) and received (max kin = 84) were highly heterogeneous. Members in central cores were more likely homosexuals, singles, and aged 31–40 years. The probability of a matched flirt (flirt returned from target) increased from 1% in the outer core to 18% in the central core (core size = 4).
The flirt network showed high degree heterogeneity similar to the structural properties of real sexual contact networks with a single central core. Further studies are needed to explore use of webcam for Internet dating.
Infectious diseases outbreaks are often characterized by a spatial component induced by hosts’ distribution, mobility, and interactions. Spatial models that incorporate hosts’ movements are being used to describe these processes, to investigate the conditions for propagation, and to predict the spatial spread. Several assumptions are being considered to model hosts’ movements, ranging from permanent movements to daily commuting, where the time spent at destination is either infinite or assumes a homogeneous fixed value, respectively. Prompted by empirical evidence, here we introduce a general metapopulation approach to model the disease dynamics in a spatially structured population where the mobility process is characterized by a heterogeneous length of stay. We show that large fluctuations of the length of stay, as observed in reality, can have a significant impact on the threshold conditions for the global epidemic invasion, thus altering model predictions based on simple assumptions, and displaying important public health implications.
Over the past two decades, major epidemics of hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) have occurred throughout most of the West-Pacific Region countries, causing thousands of deaths among children. However, few studies have examined potential determinants of the incidence of HFMD.
Reported HFMD cases from 2912 counties in China were obtained for May 2008. The monthly HFMD cumulative incidence was calculated for children aged 9 years and younger. Child population density (CPD) and six climate factors (average-temperature [AT], average-minimum-temperature [ATmin], average-maximum-temperature [ATmax], average-temperature-difference [ATdiff], average-relative-humidity [ARH], and monthly precipitation [MP]) were selected as potential explanatory variables for the study. Geographically weighted regression (GWR) models were used to explore the associations between the selected factors and HFMD incidence at county level.
There were 176,111 HFMD cases reported in the studied counties. The adjusted monthly cumulative incidence by county ranged from 0.26 cases per 100,000 children to 2549.00 per 100,000 children. For local univariate GWR models, the percentage of counties with statistical significance (p<0.05) between HFMD incidence and each of the seven factors were: CPD 84.3%, ATmax 54.9%, AT 57.8%, ATmin 61.2%, ARH 54.4%, MP 50.3%, and ATdiff 51.6%. The R2 for the seven factors’ univariate GWR models are CPD 0.56, ATmax 0.53, AT 0.52, MP 0.51, ATmin 0.52, ARH 0.51, and ATdiff 0.51, respectively. CPD, MP, AT, ARH and ATdiff were further included in the multivariate GWR model, with R2 0.62, and all counties show statistically significant relationship.
Child population density and climate factors are potential determinants of the HFMD incidence in most areas in China. The strength and direction of association between these factors and the incidence of HFDM is spatially heterogeneous at the local geographic level, and child population density has a greater influence on the incidence of HFMD than the climate factors.
Surveying invasive species can be highly resource intensive, yet near-real-time evaluations of invasion progress are important resources for management planning. In the case of the soybean rust invasion of the United States, a linked monitoring, prediction, and communication network saved U.S. soybean growers approximately $200 M/yr. Modeling of future movement of the pathogen (Phakopsora pachyrhizi) was based on data about current disease locations from an extensive network of sentinel plots. We developed a dynamic network model for U.S. soybean rust epidemics, with counties as nodes and link weights a function of host hectarage and wind speed and direction. We used the network model to compare four strategies for selecting an optimal subset of sentinel plots, listed here in order of increasing performance: random selection, zonal selection (based on more heavily weighting regions nearer the south, where the pathogen overwinters), frequency-based selection (based on how frequently the county had been infected in the past), and frequency-based selection weighted by the node strength of the sentinel plot in the network model. When dynamic network properties such as node strength are characterized for invasive species, this information can be used to reduce the resources necessary to survey and predict invasion progress.
With the world’s population now in excess of 7 billion, it is vital to ensure the chemical and microbiological safety of our food, while maintaining the sustainability of its production, distribution and trade. Using UN databases, here we show that the international agro-food trade network (IFTN), with nodes and edges representing countries and import-export fluxes, respectively, has evolved into a highly heterogeneous, complex supply-chain network. Seven countries form the core of the IFTN, with high values of betweenness centrality and each trading with over 77% of all the countries in the world. Graph theoretical analysis and a dynamic food flux model show that the IFTN provides a vehicle suitable for the fast distribution of potential contaminants but unsuitable for tracing their origin. In particular, we show that high values of node betweenness and vulnerability correlate well with recorded large food poisoning outbreaks.
Direct observation has been widely used to assess interactions between healthcare workers (HCWs) and patients but is time-consuming and feasible only over short periods. We used a Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID) system to automatically measure HCW-patient interactions.
We equipped 50 patient rooms with fixed sensors and 111 HCW volunteers with mobile sensors in two clinical wards of two hospitals. For 3 months, we recorded all interactions between HCWs and 54 patients under airborne precautions for suspected (n = 40) or confirmed (n = 14) tuberculosis. Number and duration of HCW entries into patient rooms were collected daily. Concomitantly, we directly observed room entries and interviewed HCWs to evaluate their self-perception of the number and duration of contacts with tuberculosis patients.
After signal reconstruction, 5490 interactions were recorded between 82 HCWs and 54 tuberculosis patients during 404 days of airborne isolation. Median (interquartile range) interaction duration was 2.1 (0.8–4.4) min overall, 2.3 (0.8–5.0) in the mornings, 1.8 (0.8–3.7) in the afternoons, and 2.0 (0.7–4.3) at night (P<10−4). Number of interactions/day/HCW was 3.0 (1.0–6.0) and total daily duration was 7.6 (2.4–22.5) min. Durations estimated from 28 direct observations and 26 interviews were not significantly different from those recorded by the network.
The RFID was well accepted by HCWs. This original technique holds promise for accurately and continuously measuring interactions between HCWs and patients, as a less resource-consuming substitute for direct observation. The results could be used to model the transmission of significant pathogens. HCW perceptions of interactions with patients accurately reflected reality.
Rapid advances in modern computing and information technology have enabled millions of people to interact online via various social network and gaming services. The widespread adoption of such online services have made possible analysis of large-scale archival data containing detailed human interactions, presenting a very promising opportunity to understand the rich and complex human behavior. In collaboration with a leading global provider of Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs), here we present a network science-based analysis of the interplay between distinct types of user interaction networks in the virtual world. We find that their properties depend critically on the nature of the context-interdependence of the interactions, highlighting the complex and multilayered nature of human interactions, a robust understanding of which we believe may prove instrumental in the designing of more realistic future virtual arenas as well as provide novel insights to the science of collective human behavior.
The MSM (Men who have sex with men) population suffers from very high rates of concurrent psychosocial problems. Together, these problems comprise a syndemic that increases the risk of HIV infection for this community. The precise mechanisms through which this syndemic can raise the likelihood of HIV infection warrant further exploration.
A total of 522 MSM were enrolled via a multiframe sampling approach and were asked to report psychosocial problems, risky sexual behaviors and HIV test results. A count of psychosocial health problems was calculated to test the additive relationship of these factors on HIV risk. Adjusting analysis and restriction analysis were used to determine a proposed intermediate pathway. Psychosocial health problems are highly concurrent and intercorrelated among urban MSM. Greater numbers of health problems are significantly and positively associated with HIV infection, which is mediated, at least partially, by risky sexual behaviors.
MSM experience concurrent psychosocial health problems that correlate with HIV infection in this community. We recommend the development of coping strategies for this population to deal with these psychosocial problems, both in prevention research and health policy.
An understanding of the occurrence and comparative timing of influenza infections in different age groups is important for developing community response and disease control measures. This study uses data from a Scandinavian county (population 427.000) to investigate whether age was a determinant for being diagnosed with influenza 2005–2010 and to examine if age was associated with case timing during outbreaks. Aggregated demographic data were collected from Statistics Sweden, while influenza case data were collected from a county-wide electronic health record system. A logistic regression analysis was used to explore whether case risk was associated with age and outbreak. An analysis of variance was used to explore whether day for diagnosis was also associated to age and outbreak. The clinical case data were validated against case data from microbiological laboratories during one control year. The proportion of cases from the age groups 10–19 (p<0.001) and 20–29 years old (p<0.01) were found to be larger during the A pH1N1 outbreak in 2009 than during the seasonal outbreaks. An interaction between age and outbreak was observed (p<0.001) indicating a difference in age effects between circulating virus types; this interaction persisted for seasonal outbreaks only (p<0.001). The outbreaks also differed regarding when the age groups received their diagnosis (p<0.001). A post-hoc analysis showed a tendency for the young age groups, in particular the group 10–19 year olds, led outbreaks with influenza type A H1 circulating, while A H3N2 outbreaks displayed little variations in timing. The validation analysis showed a strong correlation (r = 0.625;p<0.001) between the recorded numbers of clinically and microbiologically defined influenza cases. Our findings demonstrate the complexity of age effects underlying the emergence of local influenza outbreaks. Disentangling these effects on the causal pathways will require an integrated information infrastructure for data collection and repeated studies of well-defined communities.
There are several types of tobacco control interventions/policies which can change future smoking exposure. The most basic intervention types are 1) smoking cessation interventions 2) preventing smoking initiation and 3) implementation of a nationwide policy affecting quitters and starters simultaneously. The possibility for dynamic quantification of such different interventions is key for comparing the timing and size of their effects.
Methods and Results
We developed a software tool, DYNAMO-HIA, which allows for a quantitative comparison of the health impact of different policy scenarios. We illustrate the outcomes of the tool for the three typical types of tobacco control interventions if these were applied in the Netherlands. The tool was used to model the effects of different types of smoking interventions on future smoking prevalence and on health outcomes, comparing these three scenarios with the business-as-usual scenario. The necessary data input was obtained from the DYNAMO-HIA database which was assembled as part of this project. All smoking interventions will be effective in the long run. The population-wide strategy will be most effective in both the short and long term. The smoking cessation scenario will be second-most effective in the short run, though in the long run the smoking initiation scenario will become almost as effective. Interventions aimed at preventing the initiation of smoking need a long time horizon to become manifest in terms of health effects. The outcomes strongly depend on the groups targeted by the intervention.
We calculated how much more effective the population-wide strategy is, in both the short and long term, compared to quit smoking interventions and measures aimed at preventing the initiation of smoking. By allowing a great variety of user-specified choices, the DYNAMO-HIA tool is a powerful instrument by which the consequences of different tobacco control policies and interventions can be assessed.
This study aimed to analyse trends in notifiable infectious diseases in China, in their historical context. Both English and Chinese literature was searched and diseases were categorised according to the type of disease or transmission route. Temporal trends of morbidity and mortality rates were calculated for eight major infectious diseases types. Strong government commitment to public health responses and improvements in quality of life has led to the eradication or containment of a wide range of infectious diseases in China. The overall infectious diseases burden experienced a dramatic drop during 1975–1995, but since then, it reverted and maintained a gradual upward trend to date. Most notifiable diseases are contained at a low endemic level; however, local small-scale outbreaks remain common. Tuberculosis, as a bacterial infection, has re-emerged since the 1990s and has become prevalent in the country. Sexually transmitted infections are in a rapid, exponential growth phase, spreading from core groups to the general population. Together human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), they account for 39% of all death cases due to infectious diseases in China in 2008. Zoonotic infections, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), rabies and influenza, pose constant threats to Chinese residents and remain the most deadly disease type among the infected individuals. Therefore, second-generation surveillance of behavioural risks or vectors associated with pathogen transmission should be scaled up. It is necessary to implement public health interventions that target HIV and relevant coinfections, address transmission associated with highly mobile populations, and reduce the risk of cross-species transmission of zoonotic pathogens.