Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Potential disease-transmission sources in animals ID'd by calculating risk using social network mathematics

Date:
June 11, 2013
Source:
University of Granada
Summary:
Scientists have successfully identified animal species that can transmit more diseases to humans by using mathematical tools similar to those applied to the study of social networks like Facebook or Twitter. Their research describes how parasite-primate interactions transmit diseases like malaria, yellow fever or AIDS to humans. Their findings could make an important contribution to predicting the animal species most likely to cause future pandemics.

Chlorocebus aethiops, a primate species highly likely to transmit emerging diseases.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Granada

Spanish and US scientists have successfully identified animal species that can transmit more diseases to humans by using mathematical tools similar to those applied to the study of social networks like Facebook or Twitter. Their research -- recently published in the journal PNAS -- describes how parasite-primate interactions transmit diseases like malaria, yellow fever or AIDS to humans. Their findings could make an important contribution to predicting the animal species most likely to cause future pandemics.

Professor José María Gómez of the University of Granada Department of Ecology is the principal author of this research, in collaboration with Charles L. Nunn (University of Cambridge, Massachusetts, US) and Miguel Verdú (Spanish National Research Council Desertification Research Center, Valencia, Spain). They propose a criterion to identify disease-transmission agents based on complex network metrics similar to those used to study social networks.

As Prof Gómez explains, "most emerging diseases in humans are zoonotic, that is, they are transmitted to humans by animals. To identify animal species that are potential high-risk sources of emerging diseases it's essential we set up mechanisms that control and observe these diseases."

Study of 150 primate species

To conduct their study, the researchers constructed a network in which each node represented one of the approximately 150 non-human primate species about which we have enough data on their parasite fauna. "Each primate species is connected to the other primates as a function of the number of parasites they share. Once the network was constructed, we studied each primate species' position -- whether central or peripheral. A primate's centrality is measured by its connection intensity with many other primates that are, in turn, closely connected," says the University of Granada researcher.

The article published in PNAS reports the researchers' discovery that the most central primates could be more capable of transmitting parasites to other species and, therefore, to humans, than the rest. "This is comparable to the idea that, in social networks, web pages that are central and have links to many other pages, spread their contents all through the Web," José María Gómez affirms.

The researchers have confirmed their hypothesis by relating the centrality value of each primate with the number of emerging pathogens shared with humans. And, in effect, they have found that the most central primates were those that share more emerging pathogens with humans.

In conclusion, the study proposes a simple criterion to detect potential zoonotic agents of emerging disease transmission to humans: the centrality of these agents in their network interaction with their parasites. "The only information needed to construct these networks is the diversity and type of parasite infecting each host -- and we already know about many zoonotic organisms. This is why we think that our approach will be useful in developing early warning plans for emerging disease in humans," Prof Gómez concludes.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Granada. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Granada. "Potential disease-transmission sources in animals ID'd by calculating risk using social network mathematics." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 June 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130611102027.htm>.
University of Granada. (2013, June 11). Potential disease-transmission sources in animals ID'd by calculating risk using social network mathematics. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130611102027.htm
University of Granada. "Potential disease-transmission sources in animals ID'd by calculating risk using social network mathematics." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130611102027.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

AP (Sep. 20, 2014) — The San Diego Zoo has welcomed two Cheetah cubs to its Safari Park. The nearly three-week-old female cubs are being hand fed and are receiving around the clock care. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) — Considered a "national heritage" in Belgium, chocolate now has a new museum in Brussels. In a former chocolate factory, visitors to the permanent exhibition spaces, workshops and tastings can discover derivatives of the cocoa bean. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) — The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) — A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins