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Disease dynamics in a coupled cholera model linking within-host and between-host interactions.

Abstract

A new modelling framework is proposed to study the within-host and between-host dynamics of cholera, a severe intestinal infection caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The within-host dynamics are characterized by the growth of highly infectious vibrios inside the human body. These vibrios shed from humans contribute to the environmental bacterial growth and the transmission of the disease among humans, providing a link from the within-host dynamics at the individual level to the between-host dynamics at the population and environmental level. A fast-slow analysis is conducted based on the two different time scales in our model. In particular, a bifurcation study is performed, and sufficient and necessary conditions are derived that lead to a backward bifurcation in cholera epidemics. Our result regarding the backward bifurcation highlights the challenges in the prevention and control of cholera.

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