The cost of simplifying air travel when modeling disease spread

Justin T Lessler, James H. Kaufman, Daniel A. Ford, Judith V. Douglas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: Air travel plays a key role in the spread of many pathogens. Modeling the long distance spread of infectious disease in these cases requires an air travel model. Highly detailed air transportation models can be over determined and computationally problematic. We compared the predictions of a simplified air transport model with those of a model of all routes and assessed the impact of differences on models of infectious disease. Methodology/Principal Findings: Using U.S. ticket data from 2007, we compared a simplified "pipe" model, in which individuals flow in and out of the air transport system based on the number of arrivals and departures from a given airport, to a fully saturated model where all routes are modeled individually. We also compared the pipe model to a "gravity" model where the probability of travel is scaled by physical distance; the gravity model did not differ significantly from the pipe model. The pipe model roughly approximated actual air travel, but tended to overestimate the number of trips between small airports and underestimate travel between major east and west coast airports. For most routes, the maximum number of false (or missed) introductions of disease is small (

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere4403
JournalPLoS One
Volume4
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 6 2009

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Air Travel
Airports
air transportation
Air
Gravitation
Costs and Cost Analysis
Communicable Diseases
Costs
pipes
airports
Pipe
gravity
travel
infectious diseases
Pathogens
Coastal zones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

The cost of simplifying air travel when modeling disease spread. / Lessler, Justin T; Kaufman, James H.; Ford, Daniel A.; Douglas, Judith V.

In: PLoS One, Vol. 4, No. 2, e4403, 06.02.2009.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Lessler, Justin T ; Kaufman, James H. ; Ford, Daniel A. ; Douglas, Judith V. / The cost of simplifying air travel when modeling disease spread. In: PLoS One. 2009 ; Vol. 4, No. 2.
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