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TU Berlin

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Outbreak of disease coinfection: two evils are much worse than one


Spreading of contagious diseases manifest as percolating process, and were long believed to be continuous, featuring a mild onset of outbreak at threshold. Disease of different types, however, may not spread in isolation. Famous examples are the Spanish flu being coinfected with tuberculosis, and more recent HIV/AIDS with a host of other diseases such as herpesvirus, syphilis, TB, malaria, and hepatitis.
In this talk I will show that if more than one disease spread in the population simultaneously in a cooperative way, the outbreak can be in the form of discontinuous phase transition, meaning massive outbreaks even at the transition point. Therefore co-epidemic spreading shows quite different outbreak scenario from the classic one, providing a new angle to understand the complexity of disease spreading in real world.

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