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

See all articles by Joshua M. Epstein

Joshua M. Epstein

Brookings Institution - Center on Social and Economic Dynamics

Jon Parker

Brookings Institutions - Center on Social and Economic Dynamics

Derek Cummings

Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health

Ross A. Hammond

Brookings Institution - Center on Social and Economic Dynamics

Date Written: October 19, 2007

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

Epstein, Joshua M. and Parker, Jon and Cummings, Derek and Hammond, Ross A., Coupled Contagion Dynamics of Fear and Disease: Mathematical and Computational Explorations (October 19, 2007). Center on Social and Economic Dynamics Working Paper No. 50. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1024270 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1024270

Joshua M. Epstein (Contact Author)

Brookings Institution - Center on Social and Economic Dynamics ( email )

1775 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036
United States

Jon Parker

Brookings Institutions - Center on Social and Economic Dynamics ( email )

1775 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036
United States

Derek Cummings

Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health

615 North Wolfe Street
Baltimore, MD 21205
United States

Ross A. Hammond

Brookings Institution - Center on Social and Economic Dynamics ( email )

1775 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036
United States

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