Multifractal signatures of infectious diseases
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Incidence of infection time-series data for the childhood diseases measles, chicken pox, rubella and whooping cough are described in the language of multifractals. We explore the potential of using the wavelet transform maximum modulus (WTMM) method to characterize the multiscale structure of the observed time series and of simulated data generated by the stochastic susceptible-exposed-infectious-recovered (SEIR) epidemic model. The singularity spectra of the observed time series suggest that each disease is characterized by a unique multifractal signature, which distinguishes that particular disease from the others. The wavelet scaling functions confirm that the time series of measles, rubella and whooping cough are clearly multifractal, while chicken pox has a more monofractal structure in time. The stochastic SEIR epidemic model is unable to reproduce the qualitative singularity structure of the reported incidence data: it is too smooth and does not appear to have a multifractal singularity structure. The precise reasons for the failure of the SEIR epidemic model to reproduce the correct multiscale structure of the reported incidence data remain unclear.
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