Research ArticleSOCIAL SCIENCES

Urbanization affects peak timing, prevalence, and bimodality of influenza pandemics in Australia: Results of a census-calibrated model

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Science Advances  12 Dec 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 12, eaau5294
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aau5294

Abstract

We examine salient trends of influenza pandemics in Australia, a rapidly urbanizing nation. To do so, we implement state-of-the-art influenza transmission and progression models within a large-scale stochastic computer simulation, generated using comprehensive Australian census datasets from 2006, 2011, and 2016. Our results offer a simulation-based investigation of a population’s sensitivity to pandemics across multiple historical time points and highlight three notable trends in pandemic patterns over the years: increased peak prevalence, faster spreading rates, and decreasing spatiotemporal bimodality. We attribute these pandemic trends to increases in two key quantities indicative of urbanization: the population fraction residing in major cities and international air traffic. In addition, we identify features of the pandemic’s geographic spread that we attribute to changes in the commuter mobility network. The generic nature of our model and the ubiquity of urbanization trends around the world make it likely for our results to be applicable in other rapidly urbanizing nations.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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