Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Study ranks social contacts by job and social group in bid to fight infectious diseases

Date:
June 25, 2013
Source:
University of Warwick
Summary:
In the light of Novel Corona Virus, concerns over H7N9 Influenza in S.E. Asia, and more familiar infections such as measles and seasonal influenza, it is as important as ever to be able to predict and understand how infections transmit through populations. Researchers in the UK have mapped the daily contact networks of thousands of individuals to shed light on which groups may be at highest risk of contracting and spreading respiratory diseases.

In the light of Novel Corona Virus, concerns over H7N9 Influenza in S.E. Asia, and more familiar infections such as measles and seasonal influenza, it is as important as ever to be able to predict and understand how infections transmit through the UK population.

Researchers at the University of Warwick and University of Liverpool have mapped the daily contact networks of thousands of individuals to shed light on which groups may be at highest risk of contracting and spreading respiratory diseases.

These scientists used an anonymous web and postal survey of 5,027 UK residents to collect information on the types of social contact likely to lead to the transmission of respiratory infections.

The study, Social encounter networks: characterising Great Britain, was published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B

The survey is believed to be the largest national study of its kind to date and allowed the scientists, for the first time, to quantify social contact patterns and how these varied with age and job.

Although it is common sense that some jobs may be associated with more social contacts, there is huge value in possessing hard data on the number and duration of social contacts as it allows the complex interactions of the UK population to be analysed mathematically in the event of an outbreak.

According to the study, children were top of the table for social contacts, making them most at-risk for catching and transmitting infection.

A social contact is defined as a face-to-face conversation within two metres or skin-on-skin physical touch with another person.

Among adults, those working in schools, in the health sector and in client-facing service jobs such as shop workers or commercial roles had among the highest number of social contacts.

Students, unemployed people and retired people had among the lowest levels of social contacts.

According to the data collected, during a working day a teacher sees on average 62.1 different people, whereas a retired person only sees around 19.3.

The length of time a person spends with a contact is an important risk factor in transmitting infection, so the results were converted into total contact hours, the sum of the durations of all contacts in one given day.

Most people have an average of around 26 social contact hours a day but a small number have up to 50 contact hours a day since people can spend time with more than one individual simultaneously.

For example, children have an average of more than 47 contact hours, a health sector worker has on average just less than 33 contact hours a day, a teacher has 32 contact hours whereas retired people have slightly more than 19 contact hours.

The researchers also found that sociability tends to decline as people get older, with school-age children having the most social contact hours and people of retirement age having the fewest.

However there is a noticeable rebound in social contact hours in people aged between 35 and 45, which the researchers suggest may be down to ‘school-gate’ contacts among parents with school-age children.

Dr Leon Danon from the Mathematics Institute at the University of Warwick said: “People working as teachers or health professionals are no doubt already aware that they have higher risks of picking up bugs like colds and flu.

“But before this study there was very little data mapping out the contact patterns humans have in their daily life.

“By quantifying those social interactions, we can better predict the risks of contracting and spreading infections and ultimately better target epidemic control measures in the case of pandemic flu for example.”

Professor Jeremy Dale, Professor of Primary Care at Warwick Medical School, commented:

“This study provides light on why some groups may be at greater risk of being exposed to respiratory and other infections that are linked to close social contact.

“It should not however cause people in these groups undue concern.

“There are many sensible measures people can take to cut down on the risk of catching or passing on these kinds of infections. These include regularly washing your hands with soap and water, keeping surfaces clean and using tissues when you cough or sneeze.”

Transport workers, such as taxi and bus drivers, also featured very high on the league tables but researchers were cautious about reading into this because of the small number of respondents in this group.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. L. Danon, J. M. Read, T. A. House, M. C. Vernon, M. J. Keeling. Social encounter networks: characterizing Great Britain. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2013; 280 (1765): 20131037 DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2013.1037

Cite This Page:

University of Warwick. "Study ranks social contacts by job and social group in bid to fight infectious diseases." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 June 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130625192549.htm>.
University of Warwick. (2013, June 25). Study ranks social contacts by job and social group in bid to fight infectious diseases. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130625192549.htm
University of Warwick. "Study ranks social contacts by job and social group in bid to fight infectious diseases." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130625192549.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How 'Yes Means Yes' Defines Sexual Assault

How 'Yes Means Yes' Defines Sexual Assault

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) Aimed at reducing sexual assaults on college campuses, California has adopted a new law changing the standard of consent for sexual activity. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists May Have Found An Early Sign Of Pancreatic Cancer

Scientists May Have Found An Early Sign Of Pancreatic Cancer

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) Researchers looked at 1,500 blood samples and determined people who developed pancreatic cancer had more branched chain amino acids. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Colo. Doctors See Cluster of Enterovirus Cases

Colo. Doctors See Cluster of Enterovirus Cases

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) Doctors at the Children's Hospital of Colorado say they have treated over 4,000 children with serious respiratory illnesses since August. Nine of the patients have shown distinct neurological symptoms, including limb weakness. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dr.'s Unsure of Cause of Fast-Spreading Virus

Dr.'s Unsure of Cause of Fast-Spreading Virus

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) Doctors at the Children's Hospital of Colorado say they have treated over 4,000 children with serious respiratory illnesses since August. Nine of the patients have shown distinct neurological symptoms, including limb weakness. (Sept. 29) 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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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