Species interactions may help explain the erratic periodicity of whooping cough dynamics

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Incidence of whooping cough exhibits variable dynamics across time and space. The periodicity of this disease varies from annual to five years in different geographic regions in both developing and developed countries. Many hypotheses have been put forward to explain this variability such as nonlinearity and seasonality, stochasticity, variable recruitment of susceptible individuals via birth, immunization, and immune boosting. We propose an alternative hypothesis to describe the variability in periodicity – the intricate dynamical variability of whooping cough may arise from interactions between its dominant etiological agents of Bordetella pertussis and Bordetella parapertussis. We develop a two-species age-structured model, where two pathogens are allowed to interact by age-dependent convalescence of individuals with severe illness from infections. With moderate strength of interactions, the model exhibits multi-annual coexisting attractors that depend on the R0 of the two pathogens. We also examine how perturbation from case importation and noise in transmission may push the system from one dynamical regime to another. The coexistence of multi-annual cycles and the behavior of switching between attractors suggest that variable dynamics of whopping cough could be an emergent property of its multi-agent etiology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-70
Number of pages7
StatePublished - Jun 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Epidemiology
  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology


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