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Structural validation of an individual-based model for plague epidemics simulation

Laperrière V., Badariotti D., Banos A., Müller J.P.. 2009. Ecological Complexity, 6 (2) : p. 102-112.

DOI: 10.1016/j.ecocom.2008.08.001

Plague remains endemic in many countries in the world and Madagascar is currently the country where the highest number of human plague cases is reported every year. The investigation of causal factors, which command the disease dynamics in rodent populations, is a crucial step to forecast, control and anticipate the infection extension to humans. This paper presents simulation results obtained from an epidemic model, SIMPEST, designed to simulate bubonic plague in a rodent population at a high level of spatial and temporal resolution. We developed a structurally realistic individual-based model, mobilizing knowledge about fleas and rats behaviour, inter-individual plague transmission, and disease evolution in individual organisms, so that the model reflects the way the real system operates and to generate spatial and temporal patterns of disease spread. To assess the structural validity of our simulations, we perform sensitivity analyses on the initial population size and spatial distribution, and compare our results with theoretical statements, garnered from both previous modelling experiences and repeated field observations. We show our results are consistent with referents about population size conditions for a disease to invade and persist and the effect of the contact network on disease dynamics.

Mots-clés : yersinia pestis; rat; siphonaptera; madagascar

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