Contributions to the mathematical theory of epidemics--II. The problem of endemicity.1932

Bull Math Biol. 1991;53(1-2):57-87. doi: 10.1007/BF02464424.


(1) A mathematical investigation has been made of the prevalence of a disease in a population from which certain individuals are being removed as the result of the disease, whilst fresh individuals are being introduced as the result of birth or immigration. Allowance is made for the effects of the immunity produced as the result of an attack of the disease, but the effect of deaths from other causes is not taken into account, and the action of the disease is supposed to be independent of the age of the individual. (2) As a special case of the above, results have been obtained for a closed population in which no deaths occur and to which no fresh individuals are added, but in which the individuals after being infected acquire immunity, and then may be again infected. A threshold density of population exists analogous to that described in the previous paper, which is such that no disease can exist in a population, the density of which is below the threshold. (3) In other special cases investigated when either immigration or birth is operative in the supply of fresh individuals, as well as in the general case, only one steady state of disease is possible. To reach this state the population must be of a certain density which will be determined by the functions characterizing the infectivity, morbidity, etc., of the disease. (4) Increase of the immigration rate or of the birth-rate results in an increase in the rate of infection of the healthy individuals and also in the percentage rate of infection, the percentage of sick, and in the percentage of mortality from the disease. This result is, of course, a necessary consequence of our assumption that the disease is the only cause of death. (5) More particular results have been obtained by substituting constants in the place of the undetermined functions assumed in the general theory. Further, under these conditions the nature of the steady states has been more fully investigated and it has been shown that in all cases, except one, the steady states are stable ones. In the exception, a disturbance would result in purely periodic oscillations about the steady state.

Publication types

  • Biography
  • Classical Article
  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

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

Personal name as subject

  • W O Kermack
  • A G McKendrick