Immune level approach for multiple strain pathogens

M. NuÑo, M. Martcheva, Carlos Castillo-Chavez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


We introduce a general framework to study the dynamics of multiple strain pathogens that can impart crossimmunity through a variety of structures. We propose two types of immunity and apply them to assess the dynamics of two competing strains. We illustrate this framework using two "visions": the nexttokin protection (NTKP) approach which assumes that strains confer crossimmunity to next in order (neighboring) strains, while providing no protection against all other strains; and the differential protection (DP) approach assumes that individuals randomly gain partial (may be reinfected) and full cross-immunity following an infection with respective probabilities. We show that the risk of infection with a particular strain is significantly higher in the DP model that the NKTP. Moreover, we demonstrate that weaker cross-immunity structures in these models are more likely to lead to instability (sustained oscillations) in the strain coexistence mode. That is, periodic oscillations are sustained in the two-strain DP model for intermediate to weak levels of cross-immunity, while the NTKP model requires at least three strains to support these unstable dynamics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)713-737
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Biological Systems
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2009


  • Coexistence
  • CrossImmunity
  • Differential Protection
  • Multiple Strains
  • NexttoKin Protection
  • Oscillatory Coexistence
  • Reinfection
  • Sustained Oscillations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Applied Mathematics


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