China study improves understanding of disease spread

China study improves understanding of disease spread

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 , and their rapid spread.

Contact and travel

To find out more about how these diseases can spread among communities, researchers from the University of Liverpool's Institute of Infection and Global Health surveyed 1,821 people in Guangdong to find out how many people they came into contact with each day and how far they travelled.

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 spread, giving more detail and accuracy to patterns in this highly important region.

Dr Read concluded: "The next may well come from Asia so the more we know now about how and other infections may spread in this region, the better prepared we are to limit them and save lives."

The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Fatal case of H5N1 bird flu reported in Canada (Update)

Jan 08, 2014

Canadian health officials said Wednesday a fatal case of H5N1 bird flu has been reported in Canada, the first such case in North America. The victim was travelling from China when symptoms first appeared.

UN attacks biting bugs that spread diseases

Apr 07, 2014

Nobody likes mosquitoes, and the World Health Organization blames them for an array of diseases that kill a million people each year and threaten the health of half the world's people.

WHO head warns diseases set to rise

Dec 20, 2012

The head of the World Health Organization warned Thursday that infectious diseases will spread more easily in the future due to globalisation, changing lifestyles and rising population densities.

Recommended for you

Where Ebola battles are won

4 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Four hospitals that are home to advanced biocontainment facilities have become America's ground zero in the treatment of Ebola patients.

Depression tied to worse lumbar spine surgery outcomes

6 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Depressive symptoms are associated with poorer long-term outcome in patients undergoing surgery for lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS), according to research published in the Oct. 1 issue of The Sp ...

Ebola death toll edging to 4,900 mark: WHO

7 hours ago

The death toll in the world's worst-ever Ebola outbreak has edged closer to 4,900, while almost 10,000 people have now been infected, new figures from the World Health Organization showed Wednesday.

US to track everyone coming from Ebola nations

7 hours ago

U.S. authorities said Wednesday that everyone traveling into the U.S. from Ebola-stricken nations will be monitored for symptoms for 21 days. That includes returning American aid workers, federal health employees ...

User comments