Contributions to the mathematical theory of epidemics--I. 1927

Bull Math Biol. 1991;53(1-2):33-55. doi: 10.1007/BF02464423.


(1) A mathematical investigation has been made of the progress of an epidemic in a homogeneous population. It has been assumed that complete immunity is conferred by a single attack, and that an individual is not infective at the moment at which he receives infection. With these reservations the problem has been investigated in its most general aspects, and the following conclusions have been arrived at. (2) In general a threshold density of population is found to exist, which depends upon the infectivity, recovery and death rates peculiar to the epidemic. No epidemic can occur if the population density is below this threshold value. (3) Small increases of the infectivity rate may lead to large epidemics; also, if the population density slightly exceeds its threshold value the effect of an epidemic will be to reduce the density as far below the threshold value as initially it was above it. (4) An epidemic, in general, comes to an end, before the susceptible population has been exhausted. (5) Similar results are indicated for the case in which transmission is through an intermediate host.

Publication types

  • Biography
  • Classical Article
  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Epidemiology / history*
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Mathematics / history
  • Models, Theoretical*

Personal name as subject

  • W O Kermack
  • A G McKendrick