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Transmission of Viral Pathogens in a Social Network of University Students: The eX-FLU Study


Zivich, Paul N.; Eisenberg, Marisa C.; Monto, Arnold S.; Uzicanin, Amra; Baric, Ralph S.; Sheahan, T. P.; Rainey, Jeanette J.; Gao, H.; & Aiello, Allison E. (Online ahead of print). Transmission of Viral Pathogens in a Social Network of University Students: The eX-FLU Study. Epidemiology & Infection.


Previous research on respiratory infection transmission among university students has primarily focused on influenza. In this study, we explore potential transmission events for multiple respiratory pathogens in a social contact network of university students. University students residing in on-campus housing (n=590) were followed for the development of influenza-like illness for 10-weeks during the 2012-13 influenza season. A contact network was built using weekly self-reported contacts, class schedules, and housing information. We considered a transmission event to have occurred if students were positive for the same pathogen and had a network connection within a 14-day period. Transmitters were individuals who had onset date prior to their infected social contact. Throat and nasal samples were analyzed for multiple viruses by RT-PCR. Five viruses were involved in 18 transmission events (influenza A, parainfluenza virus 3, rhinovirus, coronavirus NL63, respiratory syncytial virus). Transmitters had higher numbers of co-infections (67%). Identified transmission events had contacts reported in small classes (33%), dormitory common areas (22%), and dormitory rooms (17%). These results suggest that targeting person-to-person interactions, through measures such as isolation and quarantine, could reduce transmission of respiratory infections on campus.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Journal Title

Epidemiology & Infection


Zivich, Paul N.
Eisenberg, Marisa C.
Monto, Arnold S.
Uzicanin, Amra
Baric, Ralph S.
Sheahan, T. P.
Rainey, Jeanette J.
Gao, H.
Aiello, Allison E.

Year Published

Online ahead of print

Reference ID