DOI: 1109.0044Aug 31, 2011Paper

High host density favors greater virulence: a model of parasite-host dynamics based on multi-type branching processes

ArXiv
K BorovkovT Rice

Abstract

We use a multitype continuous time Markov branching process model to describe the dynamics of the spread of parasites of two types that can mutate into each other in a common host population. Instead of using a single virulence characteristic which is typical of most mathematical models for infectious diseases, our model uses a combination of two characteristics: lethality and transmissibility. This makes the model capable of reproducing the empirically observed fact that the increase in the host density can lead to the prevalence of the more virulent pathogen type. We provide some numerical illustrations and discuss the effects of the size of the enclosure containing the host population on the encounter rate in our model that plays the key role in determining what pathogen type will eventually prevail. We also present a multistage extension of the model to situations where there are several populations and parasites can be transmitted from one of them to another.

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