Epidemics on Interconnected Networks

M. Dickison, S. Havlin, H. E. Stanley

Populations are seldom completely isolated from their environment. Individuals in a particular geographic or social region may be considered a distinct network due to strong local ties, but will also interact with individuals in other networks. We study the susceptible-infected-recovered (SIR) process on interconnected network systems, and find two distinct regimes. In strongly-coupled network systems, epidemics occur simultaneously across the entire system at a critical infection strength $\beta_c$, below which the disease does not spread. In contrast, in weakly-coupled network systems, a mixed phase exists below $\beta_c$ of the coupled network system, where an epidemic occurs in one network but does not spread to the coupled network. We derive an expression for the network and disease parameters that allow this mixed phase and verify it numerically. Public health implications of communities comprising these two classes of network systems are also mentioned.

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