Data on social contact patterns are fundamental to design adequate control policies for directly transmissible infectious diseases, ranging from a flu pandemic to tuberculosis, to recurrent epidemics of childhood diseases. Most countries in the world do not dispose of such data. We propose an approach to generate synthetic contact data by simulating an artificial society that integrates routinely available socio-demographic data, such as data on household composition or on school participation, with Time Use data, which are increasingly available. We then validate the ensuing simulated contact data against real epidemiological data for varicella and parvo-virus. The results suggest that the approach is potentially a very fruitful one, and provide some insights on the biology of transmission of close-contact infectious diseases.
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