Spatially Extended SHAR Epidemiological Framework of Infectious Disease Transmission
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Mathematical models play an important role in epidemiology. The inclusion of a spatial component in epidemiological models is especially important to understand and address many relevant ecological and public health questions, e.g., when wanting to differentiate transmission patterns across geographical regions or when considering spatially heterogeneous intervention measures. However, the introduction of spatial effects can have significant consequences on the observed model dynamics and hence must be carefully analyzed and interpreted. Cellular automata epidemiological models typically rely on simplified computational grids but can provide valuable insight into the spatial dynamics of transmission within a population by suitably accounting for the connections between individuals in the considered community. In this paper, we describe a stochastic cellular automata disease model based on an extension of the traditional Susceptible-Infected-Recovered (SIR) compartmentalization of the population, namely, the Susceptible-Hospitalized-Asymptomatic-Recovered (SHAR) formulation, in which infected individuals either present a severe form of the disease, thus requiring hospitalization, or belong to the so-called mild/asymptomatic class. The critical transmission threshold is derived analytically in the nonspatial SHAR formulation, and this generalizes previously obtained theoretical results for the SIR model. We present simulation results discussing the effect of key model parameters and of spatial correlations on model outputs and propose an algorithm for tracking the evolution of infection clusters within the considered population. Focusing on the role of import and criticality on the overall dynamics, we conclude that the current spatial setting increases the critical transmission threshold in comparison to the nonspatial model.