A practical method to target individuals for outbreak detection and control
1 Mathematical and Computational Modeling Sciences Center, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA
2 Division of International Epidemiology and Population Studies, Fogarty International Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA
BMC Medicine 2013, 11:36 doi:10.1186/1741-7015-11-36Published: 12 February 2013
Identification of individuals or subpopulations that contribute the most to disease transmission is key to target surveillance and control efforts. In a recent study in BMC Medicine, Smieszek and Salathé introduced a novel method based on readily available information about spatial proximity in high schools, to help identify individuals at higher risk of infection and those more likely to be infected early in the outbreak. By combining simulation models for influenza transmission with high-resolution data on school contact patterns, the authors showed that their proximity method compares favorably to more sophisticated methods using detailed contact tracing information. The proximity method is simple and promising, but further research is warranted to confront this method against real influenza outbreak data, and to assess the generalizability of the approach to other important transmission units, such as work, households, and transportation systems.