Predicting extinction rates in stochastic epidemic models

Ira B. Schwartz, Lora Billings, Mark Dykman, Alexandra Landsman

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42 Scopus citations


We investigate the stochastic extinction processes in a class of epidemic models. Motivated by the process of natural disease extinction in epidemics, we examine the rate of extinction as a function of disease spread. We show that the effective entropic barrier for extinction in a susceptible-infected-susceptible epidemic model displays scaling with the distance to the bifurcation point, with an unusual critical exponent. We make a direct comparison between predictions and numerical simulations. We also consider the effect of non-Gaussian vaccine schedules, and show numerically how the extinction process may be enhanced when the vaccine schedules are Poisson distributed.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberP01005
JournalJournal of Statistical Mechanics: Theory and Experiment
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2009


  • Fluctuations (theory)
  • Population dynamics (theory)
  • Stochastic processes (theory)


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