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Epidemic models which incorporate disease evolution

  1. Sep 19, 2007 #1
    I was wondering if anyone knew anything about epidemic models which take into account the ability of a disease to mutate. Basically I’m curious if there are any existing models which could predict how a rapidly changing disease might affect the progression of an epidemic, or how slower mutations in a disease might affect populations where that disease is endemic.

    Based on what I’ve read so far it seems like the SIR (susceptible, infectious, recovered) model described by systems of differential equations is the standard epidemic model in use. And the only thing I know about disease evolution (i.e. genetic drift and shift) is that it seems to be modeled probabilistically. I’ve seen both topics covered independently, but so far I have not read anything that deals with how these things might interact.

    Is this question in any way biologically relevant or realistic?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 19, 2007 #2

    jim mcnamara

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    Staff: Mentor

    In general, most mutations do not work to the favor of the pathogen.

    So, what you are asking is: how can mutation rate affect the S component of SIR?
    My opinion is that it can change. See Paul Ewald's 'Evolution of Infectious Disease' - the section on the increase in susceptibility/virulence that occurred during the Flu Pandemic of 1918-1919.

    How you would quantify this is beyond me.
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