Interpretations and pitfalls in modelling vector-transmitted infections

Amaku, M; Azevedo, F; Burattini, MN; Coutinho, FAB; Lopez, LF; Massad, E; (2014) Interpretations and pitfalls in modelling vector-transmitted infections. Epidemiology and infection, 143 (9). pp. 1803-1815. ISSN 0950-2688 DOI:

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In this paper we propose a debate on the role of mathematical models in evaluating control strategies for vector-borne infections. Mathematical models must have their complexity adjusted to their goals, and we have basically two classes of models. At one extreme we have models that are intended to check if our intuition about why a certain phenomenon occurs is correct. At the other extreme, we have models whose goals are to predict future outcomes. These models are necessarily very complex. There are models in between these classes. Here we examine two models, one of each class and study the possible pitfalls that may be incurred. We begin by showing how to simplify the description of a complicated model for a vector-borne infection. Next, we examine one example found in a recent paper that illustrates the dangers of basing control strategies on models without considering their limitations. The model in this paper is of the second class. Following this, we review an interesting paper (a model of the first class) that contains some biological assumptions that are inappropriate for dengue but may apply to other vector-borne infections. In conclusion, we list some misgivings about modelling presented in this paper for debate.

Item Type: Article
Faculty and Department: Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health > Dept of Infectious Disease Epidemiology
PubMed ID: 25417817
Web of Science ID: 355760600002


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