Positively interacting strains that co-circulate within a network structured population induce cycling epidemics of Mycoplasma pneumoniae

Xu Sheng Zhang*, Hongxin Zhao, Emilia Vynnycky, Vicki Chalker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Mycoplasma pneumoniae (MP) is considered a common cause of pneumonia, causing about 15–20% of adult community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) and up to 40% of cases in children. It has often been observed that MP epidemics last approximately 1–2 years and occur every 3–7 years, with the dominant strains alternating between epidemics. However, the underlying mechanism by which these cycles and changes in the dominant strains occur remains unclear. The traditional models for the periodicity of MP epidemics neglected two phenomena: structured contact patterns among people and co-circulating strains of MP. We also believe that the two distinctive aspects of MP epidemics: prevalent serotype shifts among epidemics and incidence cycling of MP, are interconnected. We propose a network transmission model that assumes two strains of MP are transmitted within a network structured population and they can interact as secondary infections with primary infections. Our studies show that multiple strains that co-circulate within a network structured population and interact positively generate the observed patterns of recurrent epidemics of MP. Hence our study provides a possible mechanism for the cycling epidemics of MP, and could provide useful information for future vaccine design and vaccine evaluation/monitoring processes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number541
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
?Centre for Infectious Disease Surveillance and Control, Public Health England, London, UK. ?Medical Research Council Centre for Outbreak Analysis and Modelling, Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Imperial College School of Public Health, London, UK. ?TB Modelling Group, TB Centre, Centre for Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases and Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK. Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to X.-S.Z. (email: xu-sheng. zhang@phe.gov.uk)

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, The Author(s).


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