Systematic selection between age and household structure for models aimed at emerging epidemic predictions.
ABSTRACT: Numerous epidemic models have been developed to capture aspects of human contact patterns, making model selection challenging when they fit (often-scarce) early epidemic data equally well but differ in predictions. Here we consider the invasion of a novel directly transmissible infection and perform an extensive, systematic and transparent comparison of models with explicit age and/or household structure, to determine the accuracy loss in predictions in the absence of interventions when ignoring either or both social components. We conclude that, with heterogeneous and assortative contact patterns relevant to respiratory infections, the model's age stratification is crucial for accurate predictions. Conversely, the household structure is only needed if transmission is highly concentrated in households, as suggested by an empirical but robust rule of thumb based on household secondary attack rate. This work serves as a template to guide the simplicity/accuracy trade-off in designing models aimed at initial, rapid assessment of potential epidemic severity.
Project description:Heterogeneities in contact networks have a major effect in determining whether a pathogen can become epidemic or persist at endemic levels. Epidemic models that determine which interventions can successfully prevent an outbreak need to account for social structure and mixing patterns. Contact patterns vary across age and locations (e.g. home, work, and school), and including them as predictors in transmission dynamic models of pathogens that spread socially will improve the models' realism. Data from population-based contact diaries in eight European countries from the POLYMOD study were projected to 144 other countries using a Bayesian hierarchical model that estimated the proclivity of age-and-location-specific contact patterns for the countries, using Markov chain Monte Carlo simulation. Household level data from the Demographic and Health Surveys for nine lower-income countries and socio-demographic factors from several on-line databases for 152 countries were used to quantify similarity of countries to estimate contact patterns in the home, work, school and other locations for countries for which no contact data are available, accounting for demographic structure, household structure where known, and a variety of metrics including workforce participation and school enrolment. Contacts are highly assortative with age across all countries considered, but pronounced regional differences in the age-specific contacts at home were noticeable, with more inter-generational contacts in Asian countries than in other settings. Moreover, there were variations in contact patterns by location, with work-place contacts being least assortative. These variations led to differences in the effect of social distancing measures in an age structured epidemic model. Contacts have an important role in transmission dynamic models that use contact rates to characterize the spread of contact-transmissible diseases. This study provides estimates of mixing patterns for societies for which contact data such as POLYMOD are not yet available.
Project description:Face-to-face social contacts are potentially important transmission routes for acute respiratory infections, and understanding the contact network can improve our ability to predict, contain, and control epidemics. Although workplaces are important settings for infectious disease transmission, few studies have collected workplace contact data and estimated workplace contact networks. We use contact diaries, architectural distance measures, and institutional structures to estimate social contact networks within a Swiss research institute. Some contact reports were inconsistent, indicating reporting errors. We adjust for this with a latent variable model, jointly estimating the true (unobserved) network of contacts and duration-specific reporting probabilities. We find that contact probability decreases with distance, and that research group membership, role, and shared projects are strongly predictive of contact patterns. Estimated reporting probabilities were low only for 0-5 min contacts. Adjusting for reporting error changed the estimate of the duration distribution, but did not change the estimates of covariate effects and had little effect on epidemic predictions. Our epidemic simulation study indicates that inclusion of network structure based on architectural and organizational structure data can improve the accuracy of epidemic forecasting models.
Project description:Although residue-residue contact maps dictate the topology of proteins, sequence-based ab initio contact predictions have been found little use in actual structure prediction due to the low accuracy. We developed a composite set of nine SVM-based contact predictors that are used in I-TASSER simulation in combination with sparse template contact restraints. When testing the strategy on 273 nonhomologous targets, remarkable improvements of I-TASSER models were observed for both easy and hard targets, with p value by Student's t test<0.00001 and 0.001, respectively. In several cases, template modeling score increases by >30%, which essentially converts "nonfoldable" targets into "foldable" ones. In CASP9, I-TASSER employed ab initio contact predictions, and generated models for 26 FM targets with a GDT-score 16% and 44% higher than the second and third best servers from other groups, respectively. These findings demonstrate a new avenue to improve the accuracy of protein structure prediction especially for free-modeling targets.
Project description:Few studies have quantified social mixing in remote rural areas of developing countries, where the burden of infectious diseases is usually the highest. Understanding social mixing patterns in those settings is crucial to inform the implementation of strategies for disease prevention and control. We characterized contact and social mixing patterns in rural communities of the Peruvian highlands.This cross-sectional study was nested in a large prospective household-based study of respiratory infections conducted in the province of San Marcos, Cajamarca-Peru. Members of study households were interviewed using a structured questionnaire of social contacts (conversation or physical interaction) experienced during the last 24 hours. We identified 9015 reported contacts from 588 study household members. The median age of respondents was 17 years (interquartile range [IQR] 4-34 years). The median number of reported contacts was 12 (IQR 8-20) whereas the median number of physical (i.e. skin-to-skin) contacts was 8.5 (IQR 5-14). Study participants had contacts mostly with people of similar age, and with their offspring or parents. The number of reported contacts was mainly determined by the participants' age, household size and occupation. School-aged children had more contacts than other age groups. Within-household reciprocity of contacts reporting declined with household size (range 70%-100%). Ninety percent of household contact networks were complete, and furthermore, household members' contacts with non-household members showed significant overlap (range 33%-86%), indicating a high degree of contact clustering. A two-level mixing epidemic model was simulated to compare within-household mixing based on observed contact networks and within-household random mixing. No differences in the size or duration of the simulated epidemics were revealed.This study of rural low-density communities in the highlands of Peru suggests contact patterns are highly assortative. Study findings support the use of within-household homogenous mixing assumptions for epidemic modeling in this setting.
Project description:Airborne infectious diseases such as influenza are primarily transmitted from human to human by means of social contacts, and thus easily spread within households. Epidemic models, used to gain insight into infectious disease spread and control, typically rely on the assumption of random mixing within households. Until now, there has been no direct empirical evidence to support this assumption. Here, we present the first social contact survey specifically designed to study contact networks within households. The survey was conducted in Belgium (Flanders and Brussels) from 2010 to 2011. We analysed data from 318 households totalling 1266 individuals with household sizes ranging from two to seven members. Exponential-family random graph models (ERGMs) were fitted to the within-household contact networks to reveal the processes driving contact between household members, both on weekdays and weekends. The ERGMs showed a high degree of clustering and, specifically on weekdays, decreasing connectedness with increasing household size. Furthermore, we found that the odds of a contact between older siblings and between father and child are smaller than for any other pair. The epidemic simulation results suggest that within-household contact density is the main driver of differences in epidemic spread between complete and empirical-based household contact networks. The homogeneous mixing assumption may therefore be an adequate characterization of the within-household contact structure for the purpose of epidemic simulations. However, ignoring the contact density when inferring based on an epidemic model will result in biased estimates of within-household transmission rates. Further research regarding the implementation of within-household contact networks in epidemic models is necessary.
Project description:Recently it has been shown that the quality of protein contact prediction from evolutionary information can be improved significantly if direct and indirect information is separated. Given sufficiently large protein families, the contact predictions contain sufficient information to predict the structure of many protein families. However, since the first studies contact prediction methods have improved. Here, we ask how much the final models are improved if improved contact predictions are used.In a small benchmark of 15 proteins, we show that the TM-scores of top-ranked models are improved by on average 33% using PconsFold compared with the original version of EVfold. In a larger benchmark, we find that the quality is improved with 15-30% when using PconsC in comparison with earlier contact prediction methods. Further, using Rosetta instead of CNS does not significantly improve global model accuracy, but the chemistry of models generated with Rosetta is improved.PconsFold is a fully automated pipeline for ab initio protein structure prediction based on evolutionary information. PconsFold is based on PconsC contact prediction and uses the Rosetta folding protocol. Due to its modularity, the contact prediction tool can be easily exchanged. The source code of PconsFold is available on GitHub at https://www.github.com/ElofssonLab/pcons-fold under the MIT license. PconsC is available from http://c.pcons.net/.Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
Project description:In networks, nodes may preferentially contact other nodes with similar (assortatively mixed) or dissimilar (disassortatively mixed) numbers of contacts. Different patterns of contact support different epidemic dynamics, potentially affecting the efficacy of control measures such as contact tracing, which aims to identify and isolate nodes with infectious contacts. We used stochastic simulations to investigate the effects of mixing patterns on epidemic dynamics and contact-tracing efficacy. For uncontrolled epidemics, outbreaks occur at lower infection rates for more assortatively mixed networks, with faster initial epidemic growth rate and shorter epidemic duration than for disassortatively mixed networks. Contact tracing performs better for assortative mixing where epidemic size is large and tracing rate low, but it performs better for disassortative mixing at higher contact rates. For assortatively mixed networks, disease spreads first to highly connected nodes, but this is balanced by contact tracing quickly identifying these same nodes. The converse is true for disassortative mixing, where both disease and tracing are less likely to target highly connected nodes. For small epidemics, contact tracing is more effective on disassortative networks due to the greater resilience of assortative networks to link removal. Multi-step contact tracing is more effective than single-step tracing for assortative mixing, but this effect is smaller for disassortatively mixed networks.
Project description:Seasonal variation in environmental variables, and in rates of contact among individuals, are fundamental drivers of infectious disease dynamics. Unlike most periodically forced physical systems, for which the precise pattern of forcing is typically known, underlying patterns of seasonal variation in transmission rates can be estimated approximately at best, and only the period of forcing is accurately known. Yet solutions of epidemic models depend strongly on the forcing function, so dynamical predictions-such as changes in epidemic patterns that can be induced by demographic transitions or mass vaccination-are always subject to the objection that the underlying patterns of seasonality are poorly specified. Here, we demonstrate that the key bifurcations of the standard epidemic model are invariant to the shape of seasonal forcing if the amplitude of forcing is appropriately adjusted. Consequently, analyses applicable to real disease dynamics can be conducted with a smooth, idealized sinusoidal forcing function, and qualitative changes in epidemic patterns can be predicted without precise knowledge of the underlying forcing pattern. We find similar invariance in a seasonally forced predator-prey model, and conjecture that this phenomenon-and the associated robustness of predictions-might be a feature of many other periodically forced dynamical systems.
Project description:Hip osteoarthritis may be initiated and advanced by abnormal cartilage contact mechanics, and finite element (FE) modeling provides an approach with the potential to allow the study of this process. Previous FE models of the human hip have been limited by single specimen validation and the use of quasi-linear or linear elastic constitutive models of articular cartilage. The effects of the latter assumptions on model predictions are unknown, partially because data for the instantaneous behavior of healthy human hip cartilage are unavailable. The aims of this study were to develop and validate a series of specimen-specific FE models, to characterize the regional instantaneous response of healthy human hip cartilage in compression, and to assess the effects of material nonlinearity, inhomogeneity and specimen-specific material coefficients on FE predictions of cartilage contact stress and contact area. Five cadaveric specimens underwent experimental loading, cartilage material characterization and specimen-specific FE modeling. Cartilage in the FE models was represented by average neo-Hookean, average Veronda Westmann and specimen- and region-specific Veronda Westmann hyperelastic constitutive models. Experimental measurements and FE predictions compared well for all three cartilage representations, which was reflected in average RMS errors in contact stress of less than 25%. The instantaneous material behavior of healthy human hip cartilage varied spatially, with stiffer acetabular cartilage than femoral cartilage and stiffer cartilage in lateral regions than in medial regions. The Veronda Westmann constitutive model with average material coefficients accurately predicted peak contact stress, average contact stress, contact area and contact patterns. The use of subject- and region-specific material coefficients did not increase the accuracy of FE model predictions. The neo-Hookean constitutive model underpredicted peak contact stress in areas of high stress. The results of this study support the use of average cartilage material coefficients in predictions of cartilage contact stress and contact area in the normal hip. The regional characterization of cartilage material behavior provides the necessary inputs for future computational studies, to investigate other mechanical parameters that may be correlated with OA and cartilage damage in the human hip. In the future, the results of this study can be applied to subject-specific models to better understand how abnormal hip contact stress and contact area contribute to OA.
Project description:Identification of blood biomarkers that prospectively predict progression of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection to tuberculosis disease might lead to interventions that combat the tuberculosis epidemic in the context of house hold contacts. Overall design: Samples are collected from subjects in a household contact study after a person comes back to the household, diagnosed with TB. Samples are collected every 6 months upto, 18 months. Some people go on to develop TB (cases) where as some others do not (controls). Here we are trying to establish a gene signature to predict the occurance of TB.