Modelling the spread of disease through contact networks
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This year the NZVA Conference includes a number of workshops running on Friday 22 June. This workshop is open to all epidemiologists, researchers, veterinarians, and postgraduate students, whether or not you are attending the conference. If you are attending the conference we recommend you register for the workshop during your conference registration.

 Export to Your Calendar 22/06/2018
When: Friday, June 22, 2018
8:30 AM
Where: Claudelands Event Centre
Brooklyn Road
Hamilton, Waikato 
New Zealand
Contact: Shannon Leader
04 495 1145

Online registration is available until: 23/06/2018
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Download flyer here.


Network analysis has become a popular framework for modelling the spread of disease in populations where contacts between individuals are highly variable and show distinct spatial and temporal patterns. It is important for veterinarians, researchers, and policy-makers to have a clear understanding of how this effects disease transmission dynamics so that we can more informed decisions about disease control at the population level. In this workshop, participants will be introduced to the basic principles of network analysis theory and gain practical hands-on experience working with network data in the R software package. Methods for sourcing contact network data and limitations in the current analytic approaches will also be discussed.

Who should do this course?

The target audience for this workshop is epidemiologists, researchers, veterinarians, and postgraduate students with an interest in gaining hands-on experience working with contact network data. The practical sessions for this workshop will be taught using the R software package ( and participants should be comfortable performing basic data manipulations in R prior to attending. We recommend that those unfamiliar with R complete the tutorial “R for Reproducible Scientific Analyses” ( in advance to make the most of the practical session. Participants must have a laptop computer with wireless capabilities.

Learning outcomes

  • Understand the basic building blocks of contact networks and how contact network structure influences disease transmission dynamics in animal populations.
  • Identify potential data sources that can be used to construct epidemiologically relevant contact networks.
  • Generate basic contact network descriptive statistics and visualizations using the R software package.
  • Develop a simple model to simulate the spread of infectious disease through contact networks.
  • Describe the current limitations in network analysis approaches and areas of future research needed to address these knowledge gaps.


You'll be able to apply your new skills to different scenarios you'll encounter through your roles when reviewing guidelines for controlling infectious diseases or developing your own models of infectious disease transmission.


Carolyn Gates BSc VMD PhD MRCVS
Carolyn is a Senior Lecturer in Veterinary Epidemiology at Massey University with expertise in developing simulation models to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of different animal health interventions at the animal, farm, and industry levels. She currently teaches infectious disease modelling, animal health economics and production medicine at the post-graduate level and is leading research programmes to build a business case for bovine viral diarrhoea virus eradication in New Zealand and to model the molecular epidemiology of pathogens spreading through livestock contact networks


Download all conference workshop programmes here.