Quasi-Neutral Theory of Epidemic Outbreaks
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Public Library of Science (PLOS)
Bacterial pathogensEpidemiological staticsMeaslesMeningitisMutationNeutral theoryPathogensPercolation
Pinto, O.A.; Muñoz, M.A. Quasi-Neutral Theory of Epidemic Outbreaks. Plos One, 6(7): e21946 (2011). [http://hdl.handle.net/10481/31127]
PatrocinadorThe authors acknowledge financial support from the Spanish MICINN-FEDER under project FIS2009-08451, from Junta de Andalucía Proyecto de Excelencia P09FQM-4682, and from the Acción Integrada Hispano-Argentina, MICINN AR2009-0003.
Some epidemics have been empirically observed to exhibit outbreaks of all possible sizes, i.e., to be scale-free or scale-invariant. Different explanations for this finding have been put forward; among them there is a model for “accidental pathogens” which leads to power-law distributed outbreaks without apparent need of parameter fine tuning. This model has been claimed to be related to self-organized criticality, and its critical properties have been conjectured to be related to directed percolation. Instead, we show that this is a (quasi) neutral model, analogous to those used in Population Genetics and Ecology, with the same critical behavior as the voter-model, i.e. the theory of accidental pathogens is a (quasi)-neutral theory. This analogy allows us to explain all the system phenomenology, including generic scale invariance and the associated scaling exponents, in a parsimonious and simple way.