The Role of Workplace Distribution in Dengue Transmission

Dianela Perdomo

Authors: Dianela Perdomo, Sanjana Bhargava, Kok Ben Toh, Dr. Thomas Hladish

Faculty Mentor:  Dr. Thomas Hladish

College:  College of Liberal Arts and Sciences


Despite increased efforts to eradicate dengue in recent decades, the disease’s global incidence has continued to rise dramatically, along with the number of severe cases reported. Conventionally, the arbovirus has been regarded as an urban disease, with minimal interventions in rural areas, which typically have poorer medical and social infrastructure, aggravating the likelihood of under-reporting. Our current agent-based model of Yucatan, Mexico, though very accurate, lacks workplace data for many rural parts of the state, and because workplaces play a key role in transmission, supplementing this data will affect the spatial distribution of transmission and disease dynamics within the model. The aim of this project is to evaluate how realistic the movement of people in rural areas is within the model, and improve it to the extent possible given available data and statistical methods. Placing workplaces correctly across rural areas would render a more accurate model giving us a better representation of real world dynamics, particularly as it relates to the synchronization of urban-rural interactions. Ultimately, we are investigating the role of rural transmission because we suspect not enough resources are allocated to addressing disease burden in these areas, which may play a unique role in dengue’s persistence.

Poster Pitch

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4 Responses
  1. Marta L. Wayne

    “there are no barriers, there are no borders” great fit to our current COVID-19 situation too. Great job Dani!

    1. Thank you Dr. Wayne! It’ll be interesting to see how the distribution of COVID transmission looks like in respects to urban and rural areas. My thoughts are that transmission will probably be slower in rural towns, yet they are less prepared to handle something like this. Many rural counties lack the proper medical infrastructure and their case load often falls on the nearest urban center.

  2. Sarah Hylton

    Hey Dani! Great poster and relevant to COVID right now. Was this data published in way that local government/ health departments in Mexico might use this to allocate more resources to rural areas? Do you think this data might be able to be used to interpret COVID spread to rural areas?

    1. Hey Sarah! Thank you 🙂 I’m glad you asked about that, and the answer is a resounding yes. The goal of doing research like this is to influence policy. We have partners and collaborators in Mexico and hopefully once this paper is published it can serve as a way to justify increasing interventions in rural areas. To me, this is one of the most attractive aspects of research, having the capacity to impact the health of entire populations.

      In regards to using this model to simulate covid transmission, we are actually doing just that! We are currently adapting it to transmission in Florida. It would be very interesting to analyze the spread in terms of urban and rural distribution, and potentially track how the disease spread through the population. Here is an interesting article on the particular risk rural areas face: