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Estimating within-school contact networks to understand influenza transmission

Potter, Gail E. and Handcock, Mark S. and Longini, Ira M. and Halloran, M. Elizabeth (2012) Estimating within-school contact networks to understand influenza transmission. The Annals of Applied Statistics, 6 (1). pp. 1-26. ISSN 1932-6157

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Many epidemic models approximate social contact behavior by assuming random mixing within mixing groups (e.g., homes, schools and workplaces). The effect of more realistic social network struc- ture on estimates of epidemic parameters is an open area of explo- ration. We develop a detailed statistical model to estimate the social contact network within a high school using friendship network data and a survey of contact behavior. Our contact network model in- cludes classroom structure, longer durations of contacts to friends than nonfriends and more frequent contacts with friends, based on reports in the contact survey.We performed simulation studies to ex- plore which network structures are relevant to influenza transmission. These studies yield two key findings. First, we found that the friend- ship network structure important to the transmission process can be adequately represented by a dyad-independent exponential random graph model (ERGM). This means that individual-level sampled data is sufficient to characterize the entire friendship network. Second, we found that contact behavior was adequately represented by a static rather than dynamic contact network. We then compare a targeted antiviral prophylaxis intervention strategy and a grade closure inter- vention strategy under random mixing and network-based mixing.We find that random mixing overestimates the effect of targeted antiviral prophylaxis on the probability of an epidemic when the probability of transmission in 10 minutes of contact is less than 0.004 and under- estimates it when this transmission probability is greater than 0.004. We found the same pattern for the final size of an epidemic, with a threshold transmission probability of 0.005. We also find random mixing overestimates the effect of a grade closure intervention on the probability of an epidemic and final size for all transmission proba- bilities. Our findings have implications for policy recommendations based on models assuming random mixing, and can inform further development of network-based models.

Item Type: Article or Abstract
DOI: 10.1214/11-AOAS505
Grant Numbers: U01 GM070749
Depositing User: Library Staff
Date Deposited: 16 Mar 2012 22:24
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2012 22:25

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