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

Two US states order tough Ebola quarantine rules

16 hours ago

New York and New Jersey on Friday ordered a mandatory quarantine for medics who treated victims of Ebola in West Africa, after the deadly virus spread to America's largest city.

NY and NJ say they will require Ebola quarantines

Oct 24, 2014

The governors of New Jersey and New York on Friday ordered a mandatory, 21-day quarantine for all doctors and other arriving travelers who have had contact with Ebola victims in West Africa.

User comments