Outside-host growth of pathogens attenuates epidemiological outbreaks

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    Opportunist saprotrophic pathogens differ from obligatory pathogens due to their capability in host-independent growth in environmental reservoirs. Thus, the outside-host environment potentially influences host-pathogen dynamics. Despite the socio-economical importance of these pathogens, theory on their dynamics is practically missing. We analyzed a novel epidemiological model that couples outside-host density-dependent growth to host-pathogen dynamics. Parameterization was based on columnaris disease, a major hazard in fresh water fish farms caused by saprotrophic Flavobacterium columnare. Stability analysis and numerical simulations revealed that the outside-host growth maintains high proportion of infected individuals, and under some conditions can drive host extinct. The model can show stable or cyclic dynamics, and the outside-host growth regulates the frequency and intensity of outbreaks. This result emerges because the density-dependence stabilizes dynamics. Our analysis demonstrates that coupling of outside-host growth and traditional host-pathogen dynamics has profound influence on disease prevalence and dynamics. This also has implications on the control of these diseases.
    TidskriftPLoS One
    Sidor (från-till)e50158
    Antal sidor8
    StatusPublicerad - 2012
    MoE-publikationstypA1 Tidskriftsartikel-refererad

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