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Age-structured effects and disease interference in childhood infections.

Abstract

Recent studies have demonstrated that ecological interference among some childhood diseases may have important dynamic consequences. An interesting question is, when would we expect the interference effect to be pronounced? To address the issue, here we develop a seasonally forced two-disease age-structured model, using empirically derived age-specific force of infection (ASFOI) for numerous infections of childhood. Our comparative numerical analysis shows that when the ASFOIs for the two diseases largely overlap, the dynamics predicted by the two-disease model are generally different from those predicted by the analogous single-disease model, suggesting strong fingerprints of disease interference. When the ASFOIs overlap less, on the other hand, both diseases behave as predicted by the single-disease model, suggesting weak interference. We conclude that age structure is an important factor that should be taken into account in order to explore the underlying mechanisms of disease interference.

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