Application of network analysis and cluster analysis for better prevention and control of swine diseases in Argentina

Jerome N. Baron, Maria N. Aznar, Mariela Monterubbianesi, Beatriz Martínez-López

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Rationale/background Though much smaller than the bovine industry, the porcine sector in Argentina involves a large number of farms and represents a significant economic sector. In recent years Argentina has implemented a national registry of swine movements amongst other measures, in an effort to control and eventually eradicate endemic Aujesky’s disease. Such information can prove valuable in assessing the risk of transmission between farms for endemic diseases but also for other diseases at risk of emergence. Methods Shipment data from 2011 to 2016 were analyzed in an effort to define strategic locations and times at which control and surveillance efforts should be focused to provide cost-effective interventions. Social network analysis (SNA) was used to characterize the network as a whole and at the individual farm and market level to help identify important nodes. Spatio-temporal trends of pig movements were also analyzed. Finally, in an attempt to classify farms and markets in different groups based on their SNA metrics, we used factor analysis for mixed data (FAMD) and hierarchical clustering. Results The network involved approximate 136,000 shipments for a total of 6 million pigs. Over 350 markets and 17,800 production units participated in shipments with another 83,500 not participating. Temporal data of shipments and network metrics showed peaks in shipments in September and October. Most shipments where within provinces, with Buenos Aires, Cordoba and Santa Fe concentrating 61% of shipments. Network analysis showed that markets are involved in relatively few shipments but hold strategic positions with much higher betweenness compared to farms. Hierarchical clustering yielded four groups based on SNA metrics and node characteristics which can be broadly described as: 1. small and backyard farms; 2. industrial farms; 3. markets; and 4. a single outlying market with extreme centrality values. Conclusion Characterizing the network structure and spatio-temporal characteristics of Argentine swine shipments provides valuable information that can guide targeted and more cost-effective surveillance and control programs. We located key nodes where efforts should be prioritized. Pig network characteristics and patterns can be used to create dynamic disease transmission models, which can both be used in assessing the impact of emerging diseases and guiding efforts to eradicate endemic ones.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0234489
JournalPloS one
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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