Date: 15 Jun 2014

Is more better? Higher sterilization of infected hosts need not result in reduced pest population size

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We analyze the effect of sterilization in the infected hosts in several epidemiological models involving infectious diseases that can be transmitted both vertically and horizontally. Sterilizing pathogens can be used as pest control agents by intentionally inoculating the target population, with the goal of reducing or eliminating it completely. Contrary to previous models that did not include vertical transmission we found that the population size at the endemic equilibrium may actually increase with higher levels of sterility. This effect is proved to exist for low to high efficiencies of vertical transmission. On the other hand, if the disease is sexually transmitted and the host reproduction and disease transmission are both consistently mediated by mating, we do not observe such a counter-intuitive effect and the population size in the stable endemic equilibrium is decreasing with higher levels of sterility. We suggest that models of the pest control techniques involving the release of sterilizing pathogens have to carefully consider the routes such pathogens use for transmission.