Research ArticleNETWORK SCIENCE

Effective approach to epidemic containment using link equations in complex networks

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Science Advances  05 Dec 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 12, eaau4212
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aau4212

Abstract

Epidemic containment is a major concern when confronting large-scale infections in complex networks. Many studies have been devoted to analytically understand how to restructure the network to minimize the impact of major outbreaks of infections at large scale. In many cases, the strategies are based on isolating certain nodes, while less attention has been paid to interventions on the links. In epidemic spreading, links inform about the probability of carrying the contagion of the disease from infected to susceptible individuals. Note that these states depend on the full structure of the network, and its determination is not straightforward from the knowledge of nodes’ states. Here, we confront this challenge and propose a set of discrete-time governing equations that can be closed and analyzed, assessing the contribution of links to spreading processes in complex networks. Our approach allows a scheme for the containment of epidemics based on deactivating the most important links in transmitting the disease. The model is validated in synthetic and real networks, yielding an accurate determination of epidemic incidence and critical thresholds. Epidemic containment based on link deactivation promises to be an effective tool to maintain functionality of networks while controlling the spread of diseases, such as disease spread through air transportation networks.

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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