The 'breakpoint' in transmission for soil-transmitted helminths: dynamical behaviour near the equilibria and the impact of infected human migration
Building on past research, we here develop an analytic framework for describing the dynamics of the transmission of Soil-Transmitted Helminth (STH) parasitic infections near the transmission breakpoint and equilibria of endemic infection and disease extinction, while allowing for perturbations in the infectious reservoir of the parasite within a defined location. This perturbation provides a model for the effect of infected human movement between villages with differing degrees of parasite control induced by mass drug administration (MDA). Analysing the dynamical behaviour around the unstable equilibrium, known as the transmission ‘breakpoint’, we illustrate how slowly-varying the dynamics are and develop an understanding of how discrete ‘pulses’ in the release of transmission stages (eggs or larvae, depending on the species of STH), due to infected human migration between villages, can lead to perturbations in the deterministic transmission dynamics. Such perturbations are found to have the potential to undermine targets for parasite elimination as a result of MDA and/or improvements in water and sanitation provision. We extend our analysis by developing a simple stochastic model and analytically investigate the uncertainty this induces in the dynamics. Where appropriate, all analytical results are supported by numerical analyses.