Skip to main content

A Multiplex Model for Epidemic Spreading


This article describes a model for the spread of an epidemic throughout a network that accounts for changes in human behavior throughout the course of the disease spreading. Typically, models, such as those we studied in class, treat human behavior as being constant; however, in reality, people change their behavior to limit their contact with others during an epidemic in order to prevent themselves from becoming infected or to prevent further spread of the disease if they are to become infected. Thus, this model accounts for changes in behavior stemming from awareness of the epidemic and the spread of information about the epidemic throughout a network. To more accurately reflect the spread of a disease through a network, the network is split into two layers, one which includes a patient’s physical contacts (people they are likely to see in person on a regular basis and can spread the disease to) and another which includes virtual contacts (people they interact with on social media and exchange information with, but are not likely to see in person to spread the disease).

During an outbreak, people tend to limit in person contact and spread more information about the disease to virtual contacts. Neither of these factors are accounted for in the models we studied in class, thus the basic reproductive number will tend to be lower in this model than those we saw in class. This model was applied to an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which is highly contagious and has no vaccine. According to the model, each individual in the network is more likely to take preventative measures if they receive information that the outbreak is more severe. Analysis of the model showed that taking public health measures to reduce the number of people that individuals come into physical contact with during an infection and spreading information about the severity of an infection can effectively reduce the number of people infected by a disease. These results are similar to the implications of the models that we studied in class. Both propose that limiting the number of people that infected individuals come into contact with can greatly reduce the basic reproductive number of an epidemic.


Leave a Reply

Blogging Calendar

November 2018
« Oct   Dec »