On estimating the basic reproduction number for Schistosoma haematobium
Existing estimates of the basic reproduction number, R0, for human schistosomes are mostly in the range 1-4, implying that schistosomes should be relatively easy to eliminate from endemic areas, which is contrary to practical experience. An estimate of R0 for a site in Zimbabwe is obtained here using a mathematical model explicitly incorporating two features believed to be epidemiologically significant; age-dependent exposure and acquired immunity. Parameter estimates are, as far as possible, obtained independently, but the coefficients representing man-snail and snail-man transmission, as well as parameters representing effects of acquired immunity, must be estimated indirectly by fitting the model to field data. Heterogeneity in human exposure and contamination is crudely incorporated by considering `wormy' and non-wormy' fractions of the population. The results suggest R0 to be in the range 4-5 or more, higher than previous estimates and despite only moderate levels of infection at this site. It is shown that this estimate is sensitive to the form of the underlying model. The application of less realistic models may lead to less reliable estimates of R0.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 1996-08-01