Experimentally induced change in infectious period affects transmission dynamics in a social group

Dhruba Naug, Brian Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


A key component of any epidemiological model is the infectious period, which greatly affects the dynamics and persistence of an infection. Social organization, leading to behavioural and spatial heterogeneities among potential susceptibles, interacts with infectious period to create different risk categories within a group. Using the honeybee (Apis mellifera) colony as a social model, a protocol that creates different infectious periods in individual bees and another that follows the diffusion of a transmittable tracer within a colony, we show experimentally how a short infectious period results in an epidemic process with low prevalence confined only to individuals at the outer edge of a group, while a long infectious period results in high prevalence distributed more universally among all the group members. We call this finding an evidence of 'organizational immunity' in a social network and propose that the honeybee colony provides a unique opportunity to test its role in social transmission processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-65
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1606
StatePublished - Jan 7 2007


  • Honeybees
  • Infectious period
  • Information transfer
  • Social networks
  • Social transmission
  • Trophallaxis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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