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Agent-Based Modeling for Super-Spreading Events: A Case Study of MERS-CoV Transmission Dynamics in the Republic of Korea

Agent-Based Modeling for Super-Spreading Events: A Case Study of MERS-CoV Transmission Dynamics in the Republic of Korea

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 15(11):

Super-spreading events have been observed in the transmission dynamics of many infectious diseases. The 2015 MERS-CoV outbreak in the Republic of Korea has also shown super-spreading events with a significantly high level of heterogeneity in generating secondary cases. It becomes critical to understand the mechanism for this high level of heterogeneity to develop effective intervention strategies and preventive plans for future emerging infectious diseases. In this regard, agent-based modeling is a useful tool for incorporating individual heterogeneity into the epidemic model. In the present work, a stochastic agent-based framework is developed in order to understand the underlying mechanism of heterogeneity. Clinical (i.e., an infectivity level) and social or environmental (i.e., a contact level) heterogeneity are modeled. These factors are incorporated in the transmission rate functions under assumptions that super-spreaders have stronger transmission and/or higher links. Our agent-based model has employed real MERS-CoV epidemic features based on the 2015 MERS-CoV epidemiological data. Monte Carlo simulations are carried out under various epidemic scenarios. Our findings highlight the roles of super-spreaders in a high level of heterogeneity, underscoring that the number of contacts combined with a higher level of infectivity are the most critical factors for substantial heterogeneity in generating secondary cases of the 2015 MERS-CoV transmission.

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Accession: 065682580

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PMID: 30373151

DOI: 10.3390/ijerph15112369

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