The goal of this paper is to motivate the need and lay the foundation for the analysis of stochastic epidemiological models with seasonal forcing. We consider stochastic SIS and SIR epidemic models, where the internal noise is due to the random interactions of individuals in the population. We provide an overview of the general theoretic framework that allows one to understand noise-induced rare events, such as spontaneous disease extinction. Although there are many paths to extinction, there is one path termed the optimal path that is probabilistically most likely to occur. By extending the theory, we have identified the quasi-stationary solutions and the optimal path to extinction when seasonality in the contact rate is included in the models. Knowledge of the optimal extinction path enables one to compute the mean time to extinction, which in turn allows one to compare the effect of various control schemes, including vaccination and treatment, on the eradication of an infectious disease.
- Rare events