Distinguished Research Professor
University of Georgia
Although many infectious diseases of humans and wildlife are transmitted via an environmental reservoir, the theory of environmental transmission remains poorly elaborated. Here we introduce an SIR-type multi-strain disease transmission model with perfect cross immunity where environmental transmission is broadly defined by three axioms. We establish the conditions under which a multi-strain endemic state is invaded by another strain which is both directly and environmentally transmitted. We discuss explicit forms for environmental transmission terms and apply our newly derived invasion conditions to a two-strain system. Then, we consider the case of two strains with matching basic reproduction numbers (i.e., R(0)), one directly transmitted only and the other both directly and environmentally transmitted, invading each other's endemic state. We find that the strain which is only directly transmitted can invade the endemic state of the strain with mixed transmission. However, the endemic state of the first strain is neutrally stable to invasion by the second strain. Thus, our results suggest that environmental transmission makes the endemic state less resistant to invasion.