Comparing transmission potential networks based on social network surveys, close contacts and environmental overlap in rural Madagascar

Kayla Kauffman, Courtney S. Werner, Georgia Titcomb, Michelle Pender, Jean Yves Rabezara, James P. Herrera, Julie Teresa Shapiro, Alma Solis, Voahangy Soarimalala, Pablo Tortosa, Randall Kramer, James Moody, Peter J. Mucha, Charles Nunn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Social and spatial network analysis is an important approach for investigating infectious disease transmission, especially for pathogens transmitted directly between individuals or via environmental reservoirs. Given the diversity of ways to construct networks, however, it remains unclear how well networks constructed from different data types effectively capture transmission potential. We used empirical networks from a population in rural Madagascar to compare social network survey and spatial data-based networks of the same individuals. Close contact and environmental pathogen transmission pathways were modelled with the spatial data. We found that naming social partners during the surveys predicted higher close-contact rates and the proportion of environmental overlap on the spatial data-based networks. The spatial networks captured many strong and weak connections that were missed using social network surveys alone. Across networks, we found weak correlations among centrality measures (a proxy for superspreading potential). We conclude that social network surveys provide important scaffolding for understanding disease transmission pathways but miss contact-specific heterogeneities revealed by spatial data. Our analyses also highlight that the superspreading potential of individuals may vary across transmission modes. We provide detailed methods to construct networks for close-contact transmission pathogens when not all individuals simultaneously wear GPS trackers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20210690
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Issue number186
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2022


  • infectious disease transmission
  • spatial networks
  • superspreading potential
  • transmission pathways
  • transmission potential networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Biotechnology
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biomaterials


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