Epidemic Spreading in an Animal Trade Network – Comparison of Distance-Based and Network-Based Control Measures

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This study considered a simple SIR model for the spread of epidemics amongst holdings of a producer community in Northern Germany, based on the directed network of animal movements. The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficiency of different control measures to reduce the epidemic size substantially. The currently applied control measures based on the distance to an infected holding were compared with the control measures based on the specific network-based centrality parameters. We found that network-based measures led to a more efficient control of epidemics with a much smaller number of removed holdings. To assess the impact of different holding types, the analysed control measures were implemented by both including and excluding these holding types. The comparison revealed a crucial role of multipliers in the spread of an epidemic. The network-based control measures depending on the removal by out-degree, outgoing infection chain, betweenness centrality and outgoing closeness centrality showed the best results: In the three-year network, on average, 2.75, 4.15, 3.73 and 3.43 times more holdings had to be removed by the control measures based on the 1, 3, 5 and 10 km radius to reduce the epidemic to the same size compared with the network-based control measures. In an area with a higher holding density, the improvement of the network-based control measures may become even more obvious. The removal of holdings based on the above-mentioned centrality parameters did thus not only rapidly decompose the network into fragments, but also reduced the epidemic size most efficiently.

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