Modelling cholera epidemics: the role of waterways, human mobility and sanitation. Academic Article uri icon


  • We investigate the role of human mobility as a driver for long-range spreading of cholera infections, which primarily propagate through hydrologically controlled ecological corridors. Our aim is to build a spatially explicit model of a disease epidemic, which is relevant to both social and scientific issues. We present a two-layer network model that accounts for the interplay between epidemiological dynamics, hydrological transport and long-distance dissemination of the pathogen Vibrio cholerae owing to host movement, described here by means of a gravity-model approach. We test our model against epidemiological data recorded during the extensive cholera outbreak occurred in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa during 2000-2001. We show that long-range human movement is fundamental in quantifying otherwise unexplained inter-catchment transport of V. cholerae, thus playing a key role in the formation of regional patterns of cholera epidemics. We also show quantitatively how heterogeneously distributed drinking water supplies and sanitation conditions may affect large-scale cholera transmission, and analyse the effects of different sanitation policies.

published proceedings

  • J R Soc Interface

altmetric score

  • 4.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Mari, L., Bertuzzo, E., Righetto, L., Casagrandi, R., Gatto, M., Rodriguez-Iturbe, I., & Rinaldo, A.

citation count

  • 133

complete list of authors

  • Mari, L||Bertuzzo, E||Righetto, L||Casagrandi, R||Gatto, M||Rodriguez-Iturbe, I||Rinaldo, A

publication date

  • February 2012