Coupled Contagion Dynamics of Fear and Disease: Mathematical and Computational Explorations
Center on Social and Economic Dynamics Working Paper No. 50
30 Pages Posted: 25 Oct 2007 Last revised: 28 Oct 2007
Date Written: October 19, 2007
We model two interacting contagion processes: one of disease and one of fear of the disease. Individuals can contract fear through contact with individuals who are infected with the disease (the sick), infected with fear only (the scared), and infected with both fear and disease (the sick and scared). Scared individuals - whether sick or not - may remove themselves from circulation with some probability, which affects the contact of individuals and thus the disease epidemic proper. If we allow individuals to recover from fear and return to circulation, the coupled dynamics become quite rich, and include multiple waves of infection, such as occurred in the 1918 flu pandemic. We also study flight as a behavioral response. In a spatially extended setting, even relatively small levels of fear-inspired flight can have a dramatic impact on spatio-temporal epidemic dynamics.
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