Project Example: Origin detection during food-borne disease outbreaks

Research Objective

The key challenge during food-borne disease outbreaks, e.g. the 2011 EHEC/HUS outbreak in Germany, is the design of efficient mitigation strategies based on a timely identification of the outbreak’s spatial origin. Standard public health procedures typically use case-control studies and tracings along food shipping chains. These methods are time-consuming and suffer from biased data collected slowly from interviews with patients. In this project , we applied a network-theoretical method to identify the spatial origin of food-borne disease outbreaks. The approach was based on the idea of replacing the conventional geographic distance with an effective network distance. Based on plausible assumptions on the structure of the national food distribution network, the approach was able to correctly localize the origin of the 2011 German EHEC/HUS outbreak.

Statistical Methodology


Open-source software as R package NetOrigin (Origin Estimation for Propagation Processes on Complex Networks) is available on CRAN.

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