Backward bifurcation and optimal control in transmission dynamics of West Nile virus

Kbenesh W. Blayneh, Abba B. Gumel, Suzanne Lenhart, Tim Clayton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

125 Scopus citations


The paper considers a deterministic model for the transmission dynamics of West Nile virus (WNV) in the mosquito-bird-human zoonotic cycle. The model, which incorporates density-dependent contact rates between the mosquito population and the hosts (birds and humans), is rigorously analyzed using dynamical systems techniques and theories. These analyses reveal the existence of the phenomenon of backward bifurcation (where the stable disease-free equilibrium of the model co-exists with a stable endemic equilibrium when the reproduction number of the disease is less than unity) in WNV transmission dynamics. The epidemiological consequence of backward bifurcation is that the classical requirement of having the reproduction number less than unity, while necessary, is no longer sufficient for WNV elimination from the population. It is further shown that the model with constant contact rates can also exhibit this phenomenon if the WNV-induced mortality in the avian population is high enough. The model is extended to assess the impact of some anti-WNV control measures, by re-formulating the model as an optimal control problem with density-dependent demographic parameters. This entails the use of two control functions, one for mosquito-reduction strategies and the other for personal (human) protection, and redefining the demographic parameters as density-dependent rates. Appropriate optimal control methods are used to characterize the optimal levels of the two controls. Numerical simulations of the optimal control problem, using a set of reasonable parameter values, suggest that mosquito reduction controls should be emphasized ahead of personal protection measures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1006-1028
Number of pages23
JournalBulletin of mathematical biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 1 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Bifurcation
  • Equilibria
  • Optimal control
  • Stability
  • West Nile virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Immunology
  • Mathematics(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Pharmacology
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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