Responding to an epidemic or bioterrorist attack with moderate travel restrictions could effectively control contagion in densely populated areas, according to a study published on Wednesday in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology study compared contagion rates in two scenarios, one with travel restrictions and one without the restrictions. Previous research showed that individuals who become aware of an epidemic travel by taking the shortest route to avoid infected areas, even if they are already infected. The behavior, known as selfish behavior in game theory, exposes people in uninfected areas to disease.
The researchers found that restricting individuals to specific travel routes would lower infection rates by as much as 50 percent. The research team called the difference between infection rates in the two scenarios the “price of anarchy.”