Homicide spreads like infectious disease

November 29, 2012

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Homicide moves through a city in a process similar to infectious disease, according to a new study that may give police a new tool in tracking and ultimately preventing murders.

Using Newark, N.J., as a pilot case, a team of Michigan State University researchers led by April Zeoli successfully applied public health tracking methods to the city's 2,366 homicides between 1982 and 2008. They found the killings were not randomly located but instead followed a pattern, evolving from the city's center and moving southward and westward over time.

Like a flu bug that spreads to susceptible groups such as children and the elderly, homicide clusters in Newark - often fueled by gangs and guns - spread to areas consisting largely of poor and minority residents. Over time, the concentration of homicides effectively disappeared from one area and settled in another.

"By using the principles of infectious disease control, we may be able to predict the spread of homicide and reduce the incidence of this crime," said Zeoli, public health researcher in MSU's School of Criminal Justice.

The study is one of the first to use analytic software from the field of medical geography to track long-term homicide trends. Zeoli said the method can be done in real time which would allow police to identify emerging hotspots.

The researchers also identified areas of Newark that had no homicide clusters during the 26-year time frame of the study, despite being surrounded by deadly violence.

"If we could discover why some of those communities are resistant," Zeoli said, "we could work on increasing the resistance of our communities that are more susceptible to homicide."
-end-
Joining Zeoli on the study were criminal justice researchers Jesenia Pizarro and Christopher Melde and medical geographer Sue Grady.

The study is published in Justice Quarterly, a research journal.

Michigan State University

Related Infectious Disease Articles from Brightsurf:

Archaeology uncovers infectious disease spread - 4000 years ago
New bioarchaeology research from a University of Otago PhD candidate has shown how infectious diseases may have spread 4000 years ago, while highlighting the dangers of letting such diseases run rife.

Lack of continuous infectious disease pandemic research endangers responses
The coronavirus was also studied considerably less than blood borne viruses like Hepatitis B or C and H.I.V. and its research community has less prolific researchers than the other investigated diseases.

For patients with sepsis, an infectious disease expert may reduce the risk of death
When people with severe sepsis, an extreme overreaction by the body to a serious infection, come to the emergency room (ER), they require timely, expert care to prevent organ failure and even death.

Infectious disease in marine life linked to decades of ocean warming
New research shows that long-term changes in diseases in ocean species coincides with decades of widespread environmental change.

What makes some people more receptive to the idea of being vaccinated against infectious disease?
Fear, trust, and the likelihood of exposure are three leading factors that influence whether people are willing to be vaccinated against a virulent disease, according to a new study in the journal Heliyon, published by Elsevier.

Can we feed 11 billion people while preventing the spread of infectious disease?
A new article published in Nature Sustainability describes how the increase in population and the need to feed everyone will give rise to human infectious disease, a situation the authors of the paper consider 'two of the most formidable ecological and public health challenges of the 21st century.'

Climate change responsible for severe infectious disease in UK frogs
Climate change has already increased the spread and severity of a fatal disease caused by Ranavirus that infects common frogs (Rana temporaria) in the UK, according to research led by ZSL's Institute of Zoology, UCL and Queen Mary University of London published today in Global Change Biology.

New research framework may help better understand, predict infectious disease risks
University of South Florida-led research identifies individual hosts more or less likely to escalate outbreaks.

Researchers study bacterial immunity to understand infectious disease
Patients with cystic fibrosis are often infected by pseudomonas aeruginosa, a bacterium that infects the lungs and prevents breathing, often causing death.

National Academies target opioid abuse and infectious disease consequences
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine today released proceedings of a March 12 workshop exploring the rise in infectious diseases accompanying opioid abuse, and possible strategies for reducing both epidemics.

Read More: Infectious Disease News and Infectious Disease Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.