Stochastic models of infectious diseases in a periodic environment with application to cholera epidemics

Linda J.S. Allen, Xueying Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Seasonal variation affects the dynamics of many infectious diseases including influenza, cholera and malaria. The time when infectious individuals are first introduced into a population is crucial in predicting whether a major disease outbreak occurs. In this investigation, we apply a time-nonhomogeneous stochastic process for a cholera epidemic with seasonal periodicity and a multitype branching process approximation to obtain an analytical estimate for the probability of an outbreak. In particular, an analytic estimate of the probability of disease extinction is shown to satisfy a system of ordinary differential equations which follows from the backward Kolmogorov differential equation. An explicit expression for the mean (resp. variance) of the first extinction time given an extinction occurs is derived based on the analytic estimate for the extinction probability. Our results indicate that the probability of a disease outbreak, and mean and standard derivation of the first time to disease extinction are periodic in time and depend on the time when the infectious individuals or free-living pathogens are introduced. Numerical simulations are then carried out to validate the analytical predictions using two examples of the general cholera model. At the end, the developed theoretical results are extended to more general models of infectious diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Article number48
JournalJournal of Mathematical Biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - May 2021


  • Branching process
  • Cholera
  • Epidemic
  • Extinction probability
  • Extinction time
  • Nonhomogeneous stochastic process
  • Seasonality


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