Spreading dynamics in a cattle trade network: Size, speed, typical profile and consequences on epidemic control strategies


Aurore Payen, Lionel Tabourier and Matthieu Latapy

PLOS ONE, 2019


Infections can spread among livestock notably because infected animals can be brought to
uncontaminated holdings, therefore exposing a new group of susceptible animals to the dis-
ease. As a consequence, the structure and dynamics of animal trade networks is a major
focus of interest to control zoonosis. We investigate the impact of the chronology of animal
trades on the dynamics of the process. Precisely, in the context of a basic SI model spread-
ing, we measure on the French database of bovine transfers to what extent a snapshot-
based analysis of the cattle trade networks overestimates the epidemic risks. We bring into
light that an analysis taking into account the chronology of interactions would give a much
more accurate assessment of both the size and speed of the process. For this purpose, we
model data as a temporal network that we analyze using the link stream formalism in order
to mix structural and temporal aspects. We also show that in this dataset, a basic SI spread-
ing comes down in most cases to a simple two-phases scenario: a waiting period, with few
contacts and low activity, followed by a linear growth of the number of infected holdings.
Using this portrait of the spreading process, we identify efficient strategies to control a
potential outbreak, based on the identification of specific elements of the link stream which
have a higher probability to be involved in a spreading process.

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