Math IDs Animals that Can Infect Humans
Spanish and U.S. scientists have successfully identified animal species that can transmit more diseases to humans by using mathematical tools similar to those applied to the study of social networks like Facebook or Twitter. Their research — recently published in the prestigious journal PNAS — describes how parasite-primate interactions transmit diseases like malaria, yellow fever or AIDS to humans. Their findings could make an important contribution to predicting the animal species most likely to cause future pandemics.
Prof. José María Gómez of the Univ. of Granada Department of Ecology is the principal author of this research, in collaboration with Charles Nunn (Univ. of Cambridge, Mass.) and Miguel Verdú (Spanish National Research Council Desertification Research Center). They propose a criterion to identify disease-transmission agents based on complex network metrics similar to those used to study social networks.
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