Effect of delayed awareness and fatigue on the efficacy of self-isolation in epidemic control


The isolation of infectious individuals is a key measure of public health for the control of communicable diseases. However, involving a strong perturbation of daily life, it often causes psychosocial distress, and severe financial and social costs. These may act as mechanisms limiting the adoption of the measure in the first place or the adherence throughout its full duration. In addition, difficulty of recognizing mild symptoms or lack of symptoms may impact awareness of the infection and further limit adoption. Here we study an epidemic model on a network of contacts accounting for limited adherence and delayed awareness to self-isolation, along with fatigue causing overhasty termination. The model allows us to estimate the role of each ingredient and analyze the tradeoff between adherence and duration of self-isolation. We find that the epidemic threshold is very sensitive to an effective compliance that combines the effects of imperfect adherence, delayed awareness and fatigue. If adherence improves for shorter quarantine periods, there exists an optimal duration of isolation, shorter than the infectious period. However, heterogeneities in the connectivity pattern, coupled to a reduced compliance for highly active individuals, may almost completely offset the effectiveness of self-isolation measures on the control of the epidemic.

In Physical Review E
Eugenio Valdano
Eugenio Valdano
Principal Investigator