Efficient Mitigation Strategies for Epidemics in Rural Regions


Containing an epidemic at its origin is the most desirable mitigation. Epidemics have often originated in rural areas, with rural communities among the first affected. Disease dynamics in rural regions have received limited attention, and results of general studies cannot be directly applied since population densities and human mobility factors are very different in rural regions from those in cities. We create a network model of a rural community in Kansas, USA, by collecting data on the contact patterns and computing rates of contact among a sampled population. We model the impact of different mitigation strategies detecting closely connected groups of people and frequently visited locations. Within those groups and locations, we compare the effectiveness of random and targeted vaccinations using a Susceptible-Exposed-Infected-Recovered compartmental model on the contact network. Our simulations show that the targeted vaccinations of only 10% of the sampled population reduced the size of the epidemic by 34.5%. Additionally, if 10% of the population visiting one of the most popular locations is randomly vaccinated, the epidemic size is reduced by 19%. Our results suggest a new implementation of a highly effective strategy for targeted vaccinations through the use of popular locations in rural communities.



Computer science, Infectious diseases, Mathematics