Can social interactions affect spread of disease?
"Most of the existing literature assumes that epidemics spread either much faster or much slower than individuals build social connections," Maurizio Porfiri, professor at New York University's [Tandon School of Engineering] Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Department of Biomedical Engineering, says. "However, this is seldom true, as people can travel any distance in a few hours, effectively spreading many pathogens." In a paper publishing next week in the SIAM Journal on Applied Dynamical Systems, Porfiri—along with collaborators Lorenzo Zino and Alessandro Rizzo, both of Politecnico di Torino, Italy, and with visiting appointments at NYU—draws connections between people's social activity and the spread of epidemics through a mathematical model. "In our current and future work, we aim to include further real-world features of human systems", remarks Rizzo.