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PLoS Pathog. 2015 Jun 18;11(6):e1004898. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1004898. eCollection 2015 Jun.

The Role of Human Transportation Networks in Mediating the Genetic Structure of Seasonal Influenza in the United States.

Author information

1
Population Biology, Ecology, and Evolution Program, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America; Center for Disease Ecology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America.
2
Center for Disease Ecology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America; Department of Biology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America.

Abstract

Recent studies have demonstrated the importance of accounting for human mobility networks when modeling epidemics in order to accurately predict spatial dynamics. However, little is known about the impact these movement networks have on the genetic structure of pathogen populations and whether these effects are scale-dependent. We investigated how human movement along the aviation and commuter networks contributed to intra-seasonal genetic structure of influenza A epidemics in the continental United States using spatially-referenced hemagglutinin nucleotide sequences collected from 2003-2013 for both the H3N2 and H1N1 subtypes. Comparative analysis of these transportation networks revealed that the commuter network is highly spatially-organized and more heavily traveled than the aviation network, which instead is characterized by high connectivity between all state pairs. We found that genetic distance between sequences often correlated with distance based on interstate commuter network connectivity for the H1N1 subtype, and that this correlation was not as prevalent when geographic distance or aviation network connectivity distance was assessed against genetic distance. However, these patterns were not as apparent for the H3N2 subtype at the scale of the continental United States. Finally, although sequences were spatially referenced at the level of the US state of collection, a community analysis based on county to county commuter connections revealed that commuting communities did not consistently align with state geographic boundaries, emphasizing the need for the greater availability of more specific sequence location data. Our results highlight the importance of utilizing host movement data in characterizing the underlying genetic structure of pathogen populations and demonstrate a need for a greater understanding of the differential effects of host movement networks on pathogen transmission at various spatial scales.

PMID:
26086273
PMCID:
PMC4472840
DOI:
10.1371/journal.ppat.1004898
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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