The inclusion of edge weights can add valuable insights in the spreading processes within trade networks and may identify factors influencing the final epidemic size. The aim of the study was to evaluate the effect of different network versions on the outcome of an epidemiological model. The weighted network versions included the number of trade contacts (A), the sum of delivered livestock (B) and the mean number of delivered livestock per trade contact (C). Furthermore, other factors, e.g. transmission probability and farm type of primary outbreak, were tested for their impact on the final epidemic size. From 2013-2014, data from a pig trade network in Northern Germany was recorded containing 678 farms connected by 1,018 directed edges. An epidemiological model was implemented considering a higher probability of disease spread for edges with a higher weight for each of the combinations between network version and transmission probability. Only transmission routes following the network structure were considered for disease transmission. The outcome of the epidemiological model (number of infected farms) was tested with a generalized linear mixed model including the fixed effects network version (unweighted, A, B, C), transmission probability and farm type of primary outbreak (breeding farm, farrowing farm, finishing farm, farrow-to-finishing farm, unknown) as well as all twofold interactions. The results revealed that all fixed effects as well as all twofold interactions were significant (p ≤ 0.05), i.e. in the following only the impact of the interactions on the number of infected farms can be interpreted. Network versions B and C showed in all combinations the highest number of infected farms independent of the underlying transmission probability. The unweighted network and network version A showed a significant increase of infected farms with increasing transmission probability. All interactions including the farm type of primary outbreak revealed a significant higher number of infected farms for farm types located at the beginning of the production chain, e.g. breeding farms. These farm types reached also more other farms in 1-4 steps compared to farm types located near to the end of the production chain. The inclusion of edge weights has a significant effect on the outcome of epidemiological models and dependent on the chosen edge weight the results need to be interpreted accordingly.
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