Competition, coinfection and strain replacement in models of Bordetella pertussis.

Pertussis, or whooping cough, is an important respiratory infection causing considerable infant mortality worldwide. Recently, incidence has risen in countries with strong vaccine programmes and there are concerns about antigenic shift resulting in vaccine evasion. Interactions between pertussis and non-vaccine-preventable strains will play an important role in the evolution and population dynamics of pertussis. In particular, if we are to understand the role strain replacement plays in vaccinated settings, it will be essential to understand how strains or variants of pertussis interact. Here we explore under what conditions we would expect strain replacement to be of concern in pertussis. We develop a dynamic transmission model that allows for coinfection between Bordetella pertussis (the main causative agent of pertussis) and a strain or variant unaffected by the vaccine. We incorporate both neutrality (in the sense of ecological/population genetic neutrality) and immunity into the model, leaving the specificity of the immune response flexible. We find that strain replacement may be considerable when immunity is non-specific. This is in contrast to previous findings where neutrality was not considered. We conclude that the extent to which models reflect ecological neutrality can have a large impact on conclusions regarding strain replacement. This will likely have onward consequences for estimates of vaccine efficacy and cost-effectiveness.

Authors:Nicoli EJ1, Ayabina D2, Trotter CL3, Turner KM1, Colijn C4.
Journal:Theor Popul Biol. 2015