Social Network Analysis Helps Explain Spread of Animal Disease

A study shows that movements of operators and vehicles between farms can help explain the spread of infectious diseases like foot-and-mouth disease and avian influenza.

The research published in PLOS Computational Biology can contribute to the development of more accurate tools for predicting the spread of livestock diseases and may help implement more effective biosecurity measures in farms.

Authors of the research discovered that movements of veterinarians produce an unexpectedly large number of potentially infectious contacts between farms that can quickly spread dangerous livestock diseases.

It showed that the network of contacts originated from on-farm visits by veterinarians in dairy farms of Northern Italy unveils patterns of infection otherwise unexplained.

By comparing the significance of veterinarian movements and animal exchanges between farms on spreading diseases, researchers pointed out that both movements and animal exchanges can potentially cause the spread of diseases.

The research is made possible by the availability of high-resolution data in space and time on veterinarian movements in the study area.

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