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Computational and Mathematical Methods in Medicine
Volume 2014, Article ID 295028, 10 pages
Research Article

Long-Distance Travel Behaviours Accelerate and Aggravate the Large-Scale Spatial Spreading of Infectious Diseases

Center for Biosecurity Strategy Management, Beijing Institute of Biotechnology, Beijing 100071, China

Received 21 October 2013; Revised 8 December 2013; Accepted 16 December 2013; Published 8 January 2014

Academic Editor: Ricardo Femat

Copyright © 2014 Zhijing Xu et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The study analyses the role of long-distance travel behaviours on the large-scale spatial spreading of directly transmitted infectious diseases, focusing on two different travel types in terms of the travellers travelling to a specific group or not. For this purpose, we have formulated and analysed a metapopulation model in which the individuals in each subpopulation are organised into a scale-free contact network. The long-distance travellers between the subpopulations will temporarily change the network structure of the destination subpopulation through the “merging effects (MEs),” which indicates that the travellers will be regarded as either connected components or isolated nodes in the contact network. The results show that the presence of the MEs has constantly accelerated the transmission of the diseases and aggravated the outbreaks compared to the scenario in which the diversity of the long-distance travel types is arbitrarily discarded. Sensitivity analyses show that these results are relatively constant regarding a wide range variation of several model parameters. Our study has highlighted several important causes which could significantly affect the spatiotemporal disease dynamics neglected by the present studies.