Original Article

Bulletin of Mathematical Biology

, Volume 74, Issue 5, pp 1226-1251

First online:

Modeling Seasonal Rabies Epidemics in China

  • Juan ZhangAffiliated withDepartment of Mathematics, North University of China
  • , Zhen JinAffiliated withDepartment of Mathematics, North University of China
  • , Gui-Quan SunAffiliated withDepartment of Mathematics, North University of China
  • , Xiang-Dong SunAffiliated withThe Laboratory of Animal Epidemiological Surveillance, China Animal Health and Epidemiology Center
  • , Shigui RuanAffiliated withDepartment of Mathematics, University of Miami Email author 

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Abstract

Human rabies, an infection of the nervous system, is a major public-health problem in China. In the last 60 years (1950–2010) there had been 124,255 reported human rabies cases, an average of 2,037 cases per year. However, the factors and mechanisms behind the persistence and prevalence of human rabies have not become well understood. The monthly data of human rabies cases reported by the Chinese Ministry of Health exhibits a periodic pattern on an annual base. The cases in the summer and autumn are significantly higher than in the spring and winter. Based on this observation, we propose a susceptible, exposed, infectious, and recovered (SEIRS) model with periodic transmission rates to investigate the seasonal rabies epidemics. We evaluate the basic reproduction number R 0, analyze the dynamical behavior of the model, and use the model to simulate the monthly data of human rabies cases reported by the Chinese Ministry of Health. We also carry out some sensitivity analysis of the basic reproduction number R 0 in terms of various model parameters. Moreover, we demonstrate that it is more reasonable to regard R 0 rather than the average basic reproduction number \(\bar{R}_{0}\) or the basic reproduction number \(\hat{R}_{0}\) of the corresponding autonomous system as a threshold for the disease. Finally, our studies show that human rabies in China can be controlled by reducing the birth rate of dogs, increasing the immunization rate of dogs, enhancing public education and awareness about rabies, and strengthening supervision of pupils and children in the summer and autumn.

Keywords

Rabies SEIRS model Basic reproduction number Periodic solution Vaccination