Human mobility is a primary driver of infectious disease spread. However, existing data is limited in availability, coverage, granularity, and timeliness. Data-driven forecasts of disease dynamics are crucial for decision-making by health officials and private citizens alike. In this work, we focus on a machine-learned anonymized mobility map (hereon referred to as AMM) aggregated over hundreds of millions of smartphones and evaluate its utility in forecasting epidemics. We factor AMM into a metapopulation model to retrospectively forecast influenza in the USA and Australia. We show that the AMM model performs on-par with those based on commuter surveys, which are sparsely available and expensive. We also compare it with gravity and radiation based models of mobility, and find that the radiation model’s performance is quite similar to AMM and commuter flows. Additionally, we demonstrate our model’s ability to predict disease spread even across state boundaries. Our work contributes towards developing timely infectious disease forecasting at a global scale using human mobility datasets expanding their applications in the area of infectious disease epidemiology.more » « less
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- Nature Publishing Group
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- Nature Communications
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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Abstract Human mobility plays an important role in the dynamics of infectious disease spread. Evidence from the initial nationwide lockdowns for COVID− 19 indicates that restricting human mobility is an effective strategy to contain the spread. While a direct correlation was observed early on, it is not known how mobility impacted COVID− 19 infection growth rates once lockdowns are lifted, primarily due to modulation by other factors such as face masks, social distancing, and the non-linear patterns of both mobility and infection growth. This paper introduces a piece-wise approach to better explore the phase-wise association between state-level COVID− 19 incidence data and anonymized mobile phone data for various states in the United States. Prior literature analyzed the linear correlation between mobility and the number of cases during the early stages of the pandemic. However, it is important to capture the non-linear dynamics of case growth and mobility to be usable for both tracking and forecasting COVID− 19 infections, which is accomplished by the piece-wise approach. The associations between mobility and case growth rate varied widely for various phases of the epidemic curve when the stay-at-home orders were lifted. The mobility growth patterns had a strong positive association of 0.7 with the growth in the number of cases, with a lag of 5 to 7 weeks, for the fast-growth phase of the pandemic, for only 20 states that had a peak between July 1st and September 30, 2020. Overall though, mobility cannot be used to predict the rise in the number of cases after initial lockdowns have been lifted. Our analysis explores the gradual diminishing value of mobility associations in the later stage of the outbreak. Our analysis indicates that the relationship between mobility and the increase in the number of cases, once lockdowns have been lifted, is tenuous at best and there is no strong relationship between these signals. But we identify the remnants of the last associations in specific phases of the growth curve.more » « less
Fu, Feng (Ed.)Network science has increasingly become central to the field of epidemiology and our ability to respond to infectious disease threats. However, many networks derived from modern datasets are not just large, but dense, with a high ratio of edges to nodes. This includes human mobility networks where most locations have a large number of links to many other locations. Simulating large-scale epidemics requires substantial computational resources and in many cases is practically infeasible. One way to reduce the computational cost of simulating epidemics on these networks is sparsification , where a representative subset of edges is selected based on some measure of their importance. We test several sparsification strategies, ranging from naive thresholding to random sampling of edges, on mobility data from the U.S. Following recent work in computer science, we find that the most accurate approach uses the effective resistances of edges, which prioritizes edges that are the only efficient way to travel between their endpoints. The resulting sparse network preserves many aspects of the behavior of an SIR model, including both global quantities, like the epidemic size, and local details of stochastic events, including the probability each node becomes infected and its distribution of arrival times. This holds even when the sparse network preserves fewer than 10% of the edges of the original network. In addition to its practical utility, this method helps illuminate which links of a weighted, undirected network are most important to disease spread.more » « less
null (Ed.)Background Human movement is one of the forces that drive the spatial spread of infectious diseases. To date, reducing and tracking human movement during the COVID-19 pandemic has proven effective in limiting the spread of the virus. Existing methods for monitoring and modeling the spatial spread of infectious diseases rely on various data sources as proxies of human movement, such as airline travel data, mobile phone data, and banknote tracking. However, intrinsic limitations of these data sources prevent us from systematic monitoring and analyses of human movement on different spatial scales (from local to global). Objective Big data from social media such as geotagged tweets have been widely used in human mobility studies, yet more research is needed to validate the capabilities and limitations of using such data for studying human movement at different geographic scales (eg, from local to global) in the context of global infectious disease transmission. This study aims to develop a novel data-driven public health approach using big data from Twitter coupled with other human mobility data sources and artificial intelligence to monitor and analyze human movement at different spatial scales (from global to regional to local). Methods We will first develop a database with optimized spatiotemporal indexing to store and manage the multisource data sets collected in this project. This database will be connected to our in-house Hadoop computing cluster for efficient big data computing and analytics. We will then develop innovative data models, predictive models, and computing algorithms to effectively extract and analyze human movement patterns using geotagged big data from Twitter and other human mobility data sources, with the goal of enhancing situational awareness and risk prediction in public health emergency response and disease surveillance systems. Results This project was funded as of May 2020. We have started the data collection, processing, and analysis for the project. Conclusions Research findings can help government officials, public health managers, emergency responders, and researchers answer critical questions during the pandemic regarding the current and future infectious risk of a state, county, or community and the effectiveness of social/physical distancing practices in curtailing the spread of the virus. International Registered Report Identifier (IRRID) DERR1-10.2196/24432more » « less
null (Ed.)Understanding the dynamics of the spread of COVID-19 between connected communities is fundamental in planning appropriate mitigation measures. To that end, we propose and analyze a novel metapopulation network model, particularly suitable for modeling commuter traffic patterns, that takes into account the connectivity between a heterogeneous set of communities, each with its own infection dynamics. In the novel metapopulation model that we propose here, transport schemes developed in optimal transport theory provide an efficient and easily implementable way of describing the temporary population redistribution due to traffic, such as the daily commuter traffic between work and residence. Locally, infection dynamics in individual communities are described in terms of a susceptible-exposed-infected-recovered (SEIR) compartment model, modified to account for the specific features of COVID-19, most notably its spread by asymptomatic and presymptomatic infected individuals. The mathematical foundation of our metapopulation network model is akin to a transport scheme between two population distributions, namely the residential distribution and the workplace distribution, whose interface can be inferred from commuter mobility data made available by the US Census Bureau. We use the proposed metapopulation model to test the dynamics of the spread of COVID-19 on two networks, a smaller one comprising 7 counties in the Greater Cleveland area in Ohio, and a larger one consisting of 74 counties in the Pittsburgh–Cleveland–Detroit corridor following the Lake Erie’s American coastline. The model simulations indicate that densely populated regions effectively act as amplifiers of the infection for the surrounding, less densely populated areas, in agreement with the pattern of infections observed in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Computed examples show that the model can be used also to test different mitigation strategies, including one based on state-level travel restrictions, another on county level triggered social distancing, as well as a combination of the two.more » « less
Emerging infectious diseases can have devastating effects on host communities, causing population collapse and species extinctions. The timing of novel pathogen arrival into naïve species communities can have consequential effects that shape the trajectory of epidemics through populations. Pathogen introductions are often presumed to occur when hosts are highly mobile. However, spread patterns can be influenced by a multitude of other factors including host body condition and infectiousness.
White‐nose syndrome (WNS) is a seasonal emerging infectious disease of bats, which is caused by the fungal pathogen
Pseudogymnoascus destructans. Within‐site transmission of P. destructansprimarily occurs over winter; however, the influence of bat mobility and infectiousness on the seasonal timing of pathogen spread to new populations is unknown. We combined data on host population dynamics and pathogen transmission from 22 bat communities to investigate the timing of pathogen arrival and the consequences of varying pathogen arrival times on disease impacts.
We found that midwinter arrival of the fungus predominated spread patterns, suggesting that bats were most likely to spread
P. destructanswhen they are highly infectious, but have reduced mobility. In communities where P. destructanswas detected in early winter, one species suffered higher fungal burdens and experienced more severe declines than at sites where the pathogen was detected later in the winter, suggesting that the timing of pathogen introduction had consequential effects for some bat communities. We also found evidence of source–sink population dynamics over winter, suggesting some movement among sites occurs during hibernation, even though bats at northern latitudes were thought to be fairly immobile during this period. Winter emergence behaviour symptomatic of white‐nose syndrome may further exacerbate these winter bat movements to uninfected areas.
Our results suggest that low infectiousness during host migration may have reduced the rate of expansion of this deadly pathogen, and that elevated infectiousness during winter plays a key role in seasonal transmission. Furthermore, our results highlight the importance of both accurate estimation of the timing of pathogen spread and the consequences of varying arrival times to prevent and mitigate the effects of infectious diseases.