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Social contact networks and mixing among students in K-12 Schools in Pittsburgh, PA

Guclu, H and Read, J and Vukotich, CJ and Galloway, DD and Gao, H and Rainey, JJ and Uzicanin, A and Zimmer, SM and Cummings, DAT (2016) Social contact networks and mixing among students in K-12 Schools in Pittsburgh, PA. PLoS ONE, 11 (3).

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Students attending schools play an important role in the transmission of influenza. In this study, we present a social network analysis of contacts among 1,828 students in eight different schools in urban and suburban areas in and near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States of America, including elementary, elementary-middle, middle, and high schools. We collected social contact information of students who wore wireless sensor devices that regularly recorded other devices if they are within a distance of 3 meters. We analyzed these networks to identify patterns of proximal student interactions in different classes and grades, to describe community structure within the schools, and to assess the impact of the physical environment of schools on proximal contacts. In the elementary and middle schools, we observed a high number of intra-grade and intra-classroom contacts and a relatively low number of inter-grade contacts. However, in high schools, contact networks were well connected and mixed across grades. High modularity of lower grades suggests that assumptions of homogeneous mixing in epidemic models may be inappropriate; whereas lower modularity in high schools suggests that homogenous mixing assumptions may be more acceptable in these settings. The results suggest that interventions targeting subsets of classrooms may work better in elementary schools than high schools. Our work presents quantitative measures of age-specific, school-based contacts that can be used as the basis for constructing models of the transmission of infections in schools.


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Item Type: Article
Status: Published
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Guclu, Hguclu@pitt.eduGUCLU
Read, J
Vukotich, CJcharlesv@pitt.eduCHARLESV
Galloway, DDddg5@pitt.eduDDG5
Gao, H
Rainey, JJ
Uzicanin, A
Zimmer, SMzimmersm@pitt.eduZIMMERSM
Cummings, DAT
ContributionContributors NameEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Date: 1 March 2016
Date Type: Publication
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Journal or Publication Title: PLoS ONE
Volume: 11
Number: 3
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1371/journal.pone.0151139
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Health Policy & Management
School of Medicine > Medicine
Refereed: Yes
Date Deposited: 23 Aug 2016 15:11
Last Modified: 02 Feb 2019 15:55


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