by Staff Writers
Liverpool, UK (SPX) May 02, 2014
Scientists at the University of Liverpool have shown how the travel and socialisation patterns of people in Southern China can give greater insight into how new diseases such as bird flu may spread between populations.
Southern China is one of the most important regions of the planet for the development and spread of new diseases in humans. In recent years a combination of high population density, frequent contact between humans and animals and the developed transport links in the region have given rise to diseases such as SARS and avian flu, and their rapid spread.
Contact and travel
Epidemiologist, Dr Jonathan Read led the research. He said: "Southern China is a hotbed for new diseases, but the way in which people move around and interact in the area is poorly understood.
"This makes it very difficult to make accurate predictions as to how fast and in which directions they will spread."
The surveys found that most people met around ten others each day and spent between five and ten hours a day with other people. People from rural areas were more likely to travel further to meet people and younger people were more likely to have more interaction with others.
The information gathered in the surveys will be used to add key data to mathematical models of disease spread, giving more detail and accuracy to patterns in this highly important region.
The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and conducted in partnership with Johns Hopkins University, Hong Kong University, Imperial College and Guangzhou Hospital. It was published in the journal 'Proceedings of the Royal Society B'.
University of Liverpool
Epidemics on Earth - Bird Flu, HIV/AIDS, Ebola
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