Epidemiological implications of the contact network structure for cattle farms and the 20-80 rule

M E J Woolhouse, D J Shaw, L Matthews, W-C Liu, D J Mellor, M R Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The network of movements of cattle between farm holdings is an important determinant of the potential rates and patterns of spread of infectious diseases. Because cattle movements are uni-directional, the network is unusual in that the risks of acquiring infection (by importing cattle) and of passing infection on (by exporting cattle) can be clearly distinguished, and there turns out to be no statistically significant correlation between the two. This means that the high observed degree of heterogeneity in numbers of contacts does not result in an increase in the basic reproduction number, R0, in contrast to findings from studies of other contact networks. Despite this, it is still the case that just 20% of holdings contribute at least 80% of the value of R0.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)350-2
Number of pages3
JournalBiology letters
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 22 Sep 2005


  • Agriculture
  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Cattle Diseases/epidemiology
  • Cattle Diseases/transmission
  • Communicable Diseases/epidemiology
  • Communicable Diseases/transmission
  • Communicable Diseases/veterinary
  • Disease Transmission, Infectious/prevention & control
  • Disease Transmission, Infectious/veterinary
  • Reproduction/physiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Space-Time Clustering
  • Transportation


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