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Anticipating the emergence of infectious diseases.

Abstract

In spite of medical breakthroughs, the emergence of pathogens continues to pose threats to both human and animal populations. We present candidate approaches for anticipating disease emergence prior to large-scale outbreaks. Through use of ideas from the theories of dynamical systems and stochastic processes we develop approaches which are not specific to a particular disease system or model, but instead have general applicability. The indicators of disease emergence detailed in this paper can be classified into two parallel approaches: a set of early-warning signals based around the theory of critical slowing down and a likelihood-based approach. To test the reliability of these two approaches we contrast theoretical predictions with simulated data. We find good support for our methods across a range of different model structures and parameter values.

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