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Human Networking Theory Gives Picture of Infectious Disease Spread

*High school students’ interactions provide new look at disease transmission*

Graphic showing the flu virus and its antibodies. Image credit: NIH

It’s colds and flu season, and as any parent knows, colds and flu spread like wildfire, especially through schools.

New research using human-networking theory may give a clearer picture of just how, exactly, infectious diseases such as the common cold, influenza, whooping cough and SARS can spread through a closed group of people, and even through populations at large.

With the help of 788 volunteers at a high school, Marcel Salathé, a biologist at Penn State University, developed a new technique to count the number of possible disease-spreading events that occur in a typical day.

This results are published in this week’s issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (more…)

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