R0: Host Longevity Matters

L.M. Viljoen, L. Hemerik, J. Molenaar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The basic reproduction ratio, R0, is a fundamental concept in epidemiology. It is defined as the total number of secondary infections brought on by a single primary infection, in a totally susceptible population. The value of R0 indicates whether a starting epidemic reaches a considerable part of the population and causes a lot of damage, or whether it remains restricted to a relatively small number of individuals. To calculate R0 one has to evaluate an integral that ranges over the duration of the infection of the host. This duration is, of course, limited by remaining host longevity. So, R0 depends on remaining host longevity and in this paper we show that for long-lived hosts this aspect may not be ignored for long-lasting infections. We investigate in particular how this epidemiological measure of pathogen fitness depends on host longevity. For our analyses we adopt and combine a generic within- and between-host model from the literature. To find the optimal strategy for a pathogen from an evolutionary point of view, we focus on the indicator (Formula presented.), i.e., the optimum of R0 as a function of its replication and mutation rates. These are the within-host parameters that the pathogen has at its disposal to optimize its strategy. We show that (Formula presented.) is highly influenced by remaining host longevity in combination with the contact rate between hosts in a susceptible population. In addition, these two parameters determine whether a killer-like or a milker-like strategy is optimal for a given pathogen. In the killer-like strategy the pathogen has a high rate of reproduction within the host in a short time span causing a relatively short disease, whereas in the milker-like strategy the pathogen multiplies relatively slowly, producing a continuous small amount of offspring over time with a small effect on host health. The present research allows for the determination of a bifurcation line in the plane of host longevity versus contact rate that forms the boundary between the milker-like and killer-like regions. This plot shows that for short remaining host longevities the killer-like strategy is optimal, whereas for very long remaining host longevities the milker-like strategy is advantageous. For in-between values of host longevity, the contact rate determines which of both strategies is optimal.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
JournalActa Biotheoretica
Volume66
Issue number1
Early online date19 Feb 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018

Keywords

  • Duration of infection
  • Epidemiology
  • Fitness strategy
  • Host longevity
  • milker–killer dilemma
  • R

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