Comparing transmission potential networks based on social network surveys, close contacts and environmental overlap in rural Madagascar.


Social and spatial network analysis is an important approach for investigating infectious disease transmission, especially for pathogens transmitted directly between individuals or via environmental reservoirs. Given the diversity of ways to construct networks, however, it remains unclear how well networks constructed from different data types effectively capture transmission potential. We used empirical networks from a population in rural Madagascar to compare social network survey and spatial data-based networks of the same individuals. Close contact and environmental pathogen transmission pathways were modelled with the spatial data. We found that naming social partners during the surveys predicted higher close-contact rates and the proportion of environmental overlap on the spatial data-based networks. The spatial networks captured many strong and weak connections that were missed using social network surveys alone. Across networks, we found weak correlations among centrality measures (a proxy for superspreading potential). We conclude that social network surveys provide important scaffolding for understanding disease transmission pathways but miss contact-specific heterogeneities revealed by spatial data. Our analyses also highlight that the superspreading potential of individuals may vary across transmission modes. We provide detailed methods to construct networks for close-contact transmission pathogens when not all individuals simultaneously wear GPS trackers.





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Publication Info

Kauffman, Kayla, Courtney S Werner, Georgia Titcomb, Michelle Pender, Jean Yves Rabezara, James P Herrera, Julie Teresa Shapiro, Alma Solis, et al. (2022). Comparing transmission potential networks based on social network surveys, close contacts and environmental overlap in rural Madagascar. Journal of the Royal Society, Interface, 19(186). p. 20210690. 10.1098/rsif.2021.0690 Retrieved from

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Randall Kramer

Juli Plant Grainger Professor Emeritus of Global Environmental Health

Before coming to Duke in 1988, he was on the faculty at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He has held visiting positions at IUCN--The World Conservation Union, the Economic Growth Center at Yale University, and the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry. He has served as a consultant to the World Bank, World Health Organization and other international organizations. He was named Duke University's Scholar Teacher of the Year in 2004.

Kramer's research is focused on the economics of ecosystem services and on global environmental health. He is currently conducting a study on the effects of human land use decisions on biodiversity, infectious disease transmission and human health in rural Madagascar. Recent research projects have used decision analysis and implementation science to evaluate the health, social and environmental impacts of alternative malaria control strategies in East Africa. He has also conducted research on health systems strengthening, economic valuation of lives saved from air pollution reduction. and the role of ecosystems services in protecting human health.


Charles L Nunn

Gosnell Family Professor in Global Health

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