Joe Pharaon , Applied Mathematics, University of Waterloo
How does social behavior influence the evolution of pathogen virulence?
From historic pandemics like the bubonic plague to the more recent
outbreaks of the Zika virus, human behaviour continues to influence
the course of disease spread. The severity of an emerging pathogen,
known as virulence, is perhaps one of the very first indicators public
health officials attempt to quantify. Research continues to address
the connection between social behaviour and the emergence of pathogen
and its severity, yet it neglects an essential point: an evolving
behaviour. We propose to extend models in epidemiology by considering
a new variable describing changes in behaviour, that is coupled with
the epidemiological processes. Our preliminary results suggest that
proper behaviour can attenuate outbreak intensities and in some cases
completely prevent them.