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Network inoculation: Heteroclinics and phase transitions in an epidemic model.

  • Author(s): Yang, Hui
  • Rogers, Tim
  • Gross, Thilo
  • et al.

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In epidemiological modelling, dynamics on networks, and, in particular, adaptive and heterogeneous networks have recently received much interest. Here, we present a detailed analysis of a previously proposed model that combines heterogeneity in the individuals with adaptive rewiring of the network structure in response to a disease. We show that in this model, qualitative changes in the dynamics occur in two phase transitions. In a macroscopic description, one of these corresponds to a local bifurcation, whereas the other one corresponds to a non-local heteroclinic bifurcation. This model thus provides a rare example of a system where a phase transition is caused by a non-local bifurcation, while both micro- and macro-level dynamics are accessible to mathematical analysis. The bifurcation points mark the onset of a behaviour that we call network inoculation. In the respective parameter region, exposure of the system to a pathogen will lead to an outbreak that collapses but leaves the network in a configuration where the disease cannot reinvade, despite every agent returning to the susceptible class. We argue that this behaviour and the associated phase transitions can be expected to occur in a wide class of models of sufficient complexity.

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