We estimate the parameters of a stochastic process model for a macroparasite population within a host using approximate Bayesian computation (ABC). The immunity of the host is an unobserved model variable and only mature macroparasites at sacrifice of the host are counted. With very limited data, process rates are inferred reasonably precisely. Modeling involves a three variable Markov process for which the observed data likelihood is computationally intractable. ABC methods are particularly useful when the likelihood is analytically or computationally intractable. The ABC algorithm we present is based on sequential Monte Carlo, is adaptive in nature, and overcomes some drawbacks of previous approaches to ABC. The algorithm is validated on a test example involving simulated data from an autologistic model before being used to infer parameters of the Markov process model for experimental data. The fitted model explains the observed extra-binomial variation in terms of a zero-one immunity variable, which has a short-lived presence in the host.
© 2010, The International Biometric Society.