Opposite Patterns of Synchrony in Sympatric Disease Metapopulations

Science  29 Oct 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5441, pp. 968-971
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5441.968

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Measles epidemics in UK cities, which were regular and highly synchronous before vaccination, are known to have become irregular and spatially uncorrelated in the vaccine era. Whooping cough shows the reverse pattern, namely a shift from spatial incoherence and irregularity before vaccination to regular, synchronous epidemics afterward. Models show that these patterns can arise from disease-specific responses to dynamical noise. This analysis has implications for vaccination strategies and illustrates the power of comparative dynamical studies of sympatric metapopulations.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: pej{at}

  • Current address: Department of Mathematics and Statistics, McMaster University, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada L8S 4K1.

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