A Path-Specific SEIR Model for use with General Latent and Infectious Time Distributions



Most current Bayesian SEIR (Susceptible, Exposed, Infectious, Removed (or Recovered)) models either use exponentially distributed latent and infectious periods, allow for a single distribution on the latent and infectious period, or make strong assumptions regarding the quantity of information available regarding time distributions, particularly the time spent in the exposed compartment. Many infectious diseases require a more realistic assumption on the latent and infectious periods. In this article, we provide an alternative model allowing general distributions to be utilized for both the exposed and infectious compartments, while avoiding the need for full latent time data. The alternative formulation is a path-specific SEIR (PS SEIR) model that follows individual paths through the exposed and infectious compartments, thereby removing the need for an exponential assumption on the latent and infectious time distributions. We show how the PS SEIR model is a stochastic analog to a general class of deterministic SEIR models. We then demonstrate the improvement of this PS SEIR model over more common population averaged models via simulation results and perform a new analysis of the Iowa mumps epidemic from 2006.