Population dynamic interference among childhood diseases

P. Rohani, D. J. Earn, B. Finkenstadt, B. T. Grenfell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Epidemiologists usually study the interaction between a host population and one parasitic infection. However, different parasite species effectively compete, in an ecological sense, for the same finite group of susceptible hosts, so there may be an indirect effect on the population dynamics of one disease due to epidemics of another. In human populations, recovery from any serious infection is normally preceded by a period of convalescense, during which infected individuals stay at home and are effectively shielded from exposure to other infectious diseases. We present a model for the dynamics of two infectious diseases, incorporating a temporary removal of susceptibles. We use this model to explore population-level consequences of a temporary insusceptibility in childhood diseases, the dynamics of which are partly driven by differences in contact rates in and out of school terms. Significant population dynamic interference is predicted and cannot be dismissed in the limited case-study data available for measles and whooping cough in England before the vaccination era.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2033-2041
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1410
StatePublished - Nov 7 1998
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


  • Epidemiology
  • Interference
  • Measles
  • Population dynamics
  • Vaccination
  • Whooping cough


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