Quantifying changes in the British cattle movement network

Andrew J Duncan, Aaron Reeves, George Gunn, Roger Humphry

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Abstract

The Cattle Tracing System database is an online recording system for cattle births, deaths and between--herd movements in the United Kingdom. Although it has been thoroughly examined, the most recently reported movement analysis is from 2009. This article uses the database to construct weighted directed monthly movement networks for two distinct periods of time, 2004--2006 and 2015--2017, to quantify by how much the underlying structure of the network has changed. Substantial changes in network structure may influence policy--makers directly or may influence models built upon the network data, and these in turn could impact policy--makers and their assessment of risk. Four general network measures are used (total number of nodes with movements, movements, births and deaths), in conjunction with network metrics to describe each monthly network. Two updates of the database were examined to determine by how much the movement data stored for a particular time period had been cleansed between updates. Statistical models show that there is a statistically significant effect of the time period (2004--2006 vs 2015--2017) in the values of all network measures and six of nine network metrics. Changes in the sizes of both the Giant and Weakly Strongly Connected components predict reductions in the upper and lower bounds of the maximum epidemic size. Examination of the updates of the database show that there are differences in records between updates and therefore evidence of historical data changing between updates. Accurate modelling of disease spread through a network requires representative descriptions of the network. The authors recommend that where possible the most recent available data always be used for network modelling and that methods of network prediction be examined to mitigate for the time required for data to become available.
Original languageEnglish
JournalArXiV
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2021

Keywords

  • physics.soc-ph
  • stat.AP

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