Math, Infectious Disease, and Human Behavior

The Department of Applied Mathematics at the University of Waterloo recently did a study on how the spread of infectious diseases is related to human behavior. The study, performed by Joe Pharaon and Chris Bauch, investigated whether or not human behavior plays a role in both the spread and evolution of infectious diseases. To test this claim, Pharaon and Bauch used computer modelling to add social interactions to pre-existing models for the outbreak of disease. Their models supported the idea that human behavior affects the spread and evolution of infectious diseases. Although the model studied by Pharaon and Bauch was a general model for pathogens, their research has opened the door for more testing to be done in order to better understand the relationship between human behavior and the spread of specific disease. In the future, this social modelling could have an impact on public health policies at times of an outbreak and could improve public health responses to epidemics.