The dynamical implications of disease interference: correlations and coexistence.


Ecological interference between unrelated diseases, caused by the temporary or permanent removal of individuals susceptible to one disease following infection with another, might be an important mechanism underlying epidemics. In this paper, we explore the potential dynamic consequences of interference by analyzing a two-disease model. By studying the stability domain of the model's equilibria, we find that the stable region of the two-disease endemic state becomes increasingly smaller as the strength of interference (largely determined by the disease-induced mortality) increases. When seasonal changes are included in the transmission rates, the bifurcation structure of the model's periodic cycles reveals that when the two diseases have similar mean transmission rates, multiple attractors in which the two diseases are strongly correlated can coexist, and that when the two diseases have very different mean transmission rates, the one with higher mean transmission rate may determine the dynamics of the system, with the other infection mimicking the behavior. We conclude that ecological interference can have important effects on the dynamical pattern of interacting diseases, the extent of which is determined by the epidemiological features of the diseases, their mean transmission rates in particular.

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