Understanding the dynamics of pathogen spread within urban areas is critical for the effective prevention and containment of communicable diseases. At these relatively small geographic scales, short-distance interactions and tightly knit sub-networks dominate the dynamics of pathogen transmission; yet, the effective boundaries of these micro-scale groups are generally not known and often ignored. Using clinical test results from hospital admitted patients we analyze the spatio-temporal distribution of Influenza Like Illness (ILI) in the city of Jerusalem over a period of three winter seasons. We demonstrate that this urban area is not a single, perfectly mixed ecology, but is in fact comprised of a set of more basic, relatively independent pathogen transmission units, which we term here Local Transmission Zones, LTZs. By identifying these LTZs, and using the dynamic pathogen-content information contained within them, we are able to differentiate between disease-causes at the individual patient level often with near-perfect predictive accuracy.
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