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Evolution and emergence of a novel human pathogen

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We consider the role that case reports can play in predictability for emergence of a novel pathogen. In the example of H5N1 influenza, although there are continuing human cases, the virus remains poorly transmitted between humans. Here we use a simple stochastic mathematical model to study connections between the evolutionary biology of a zoonotic virus, in adapting for human transmission, and the epidemiology accompanying emergence of a novel strain. We find that patterns in outbreak sizes before emergence depend strongly on the adaptive steps that a wildtype virus must take. Moreover, we explore the effects of contact heterogeneity in the host population.

This talk is part of the Worms and Bugs series.

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