• Journal: arXiv e-print
  • Date: March 23, 2017
  • arXiv ID: 1703.08202
  • Category: Scientific Research


Frederic Schoenberg, Marc Hoffman, and Ryan Harrigan used measles data from Project Tycho to create a new model to explain how disease transmission rates are affected by low or high disease prevalence in the population.


Frederic Schoenberg

Marc Hoffman

Ryan Harrigan

Related Project Tycho Datasets

United States of America - Measles


We introduce a new type of point process model to describe the incidence of contagious diseases. The model is a variant of the Hawkes self-exciting process and exhibits similar clustering but without the restriction that the component describing the contagion must remain static over time. Instead, our proposed model prescribes that the degree of contagion (or productivity) changes as a function of the conditional intensity; of particular interest is the special case where the productivity is inversely proportional to the conditional intensity. The model incorporates the premise that when the disease occurs at very low frequency in the population, such as in the primary stages of an outbreak, then anyone with the disease is likely to have a high rate of transmission to others, whereas when the disease is prevalent in the population, then the transmission rate is lower due to human mitigation actions and prevention measures and a relatively high percentage of previous exposure in the total population. The model is said to be recursive, in the sense that the conditional intensity at any particular time depends on the productivity associated with previous points, and this productivity in turn depends on the conditional intensity at those points. Some basic properties of the model are derived, estimation and simulation are discussed, and the recursive model is shown to fit well to historic data on measles in Los Angeles, California, a relevant example given the 2017 outbreak of this disease in the same region.

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