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Sci Rep. 2015 Jun 15;5:11401. doi: 10.1038/srep11401.

Integrated travel network model for studying epidemics: Interplay between journeys and epidemic.

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1] Department of Physics, East China Normal University, Shanghai, 200062, China [2] Center for Network Science, Central European University.
Department of Physics, East China Normal University, Shanghai, 200062, China.
Department of Physics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, New Territories, Hong Kong.


The ease of travelling between cities has contributed much to globalization. Yet, it poses a threat on epidemic outbreaks. It is of great importance for network science and health control to understand the impact of frequent journeys on epidemics. We stress that a new framework of modelling that takes a traveller's viewpoint is needed. Such integrated travel network (ITN) model should incorporate the diversity among links as dictated by the distances between cities and different speeds of different modes of transportation, diversity among nodes as dictated by the population and the ease of travelling due to infrastructures and economic development of a city, and round-trip journeys to targeted destinations via the paths of shortest travel times typical of human journeys. An example is constructed for 116 cities in China with populations over one million that are connected by high-speed train services and highways. Epidemic spread on the constructed network is studied. It is revealed both numerically and theoretically that the traveling speed and frequency are important factors of epidemic spreading. Depending on the infection rate, increasing the traveling speed would result in either an enhanced or suppressed epidemic, while increasing the traveling frequency enhances the epidemic spreading.

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