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Sci Rep. 2012;2:632. doi: 10.1038/srep00632. Epub 2012 Sep 5.

On the existence of a threshold for preventive behavioral responses to suppress epidemic spreading.

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K-State Epicenter, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS, USA.


The spontaneous behavioral responses of individuals to the progress of an epidemic are recognized to have a significant impact on how the infection spreads. One observation is that, even if the infection strength is larger than the classical epidemic threshold, the initially growing infection can diminish as the result of preventive behavioral patterns adopted by the individuals. In order to investigate such dynamics of the epidemic spreading, we use a simple behavioral model coupled with the individual-based SIS epidemic model where susceptible individuals adopt a preventive behavior when sensing infection. We show that, given any infection strength and contact topology, there exists a region in the behavior-related parameter space such that infection cannot survive in long run and is completely contained. Several simulation results, including a spreading scenario in a realistic contact network from a rural district in the State of Kansas, are presented to support our analytical arguments.

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