A mathematically assisted reconstruction of the initial focus of the yellow fever outbreak in Buenos Aires (1871)

  • M. L. Fernández Departamento de Computación, FCEN-UBA and CONICET
  • M. Otero Departamento de Física, Universidad de Buenos Aires
  • N. Schweigmann Departamento de Ecología, Genética y Evolución, FCEN-UBA and IEGEBA-CONICET
  • H. G. Solari Departamento de Física, Universidad de Buenos Aires
Keywords: dynamics, epidemics, yellow fever, Aedes aegypti


We discuss the historic mortality record corresponding to the initial focus of the yellow fever epidemic outbreak registered in Buenos Aires during the year 1871 as compared to simulations of a stochastic population dynamics model. This model incorporates the biology of the urban vector of yellow fever, the mosquito Aedes aegypti, the stages of the disease in the human being as well as the spatial extension of the epidemic outbreak. After introducing the historical context and the restrictions it puts on initial conditions and ecological parameters, we discuss the general features of the simulation and the dependence on initial conditions and available sites for breeding the vector. We discuss the sensitivity, to the free parameters, of statistical estimators such as: final death toll, day of the year when the outbreak reached half the total mortality and the normalized daily mortality, showing some striking regularities. The model is precise and accurate enough to discuss the truthfulness of the presently accepted historic discussions of the epidemic causes, showing that there are more likely scenarios for the historic facts.

Received: 9 October 2012,  Accepted: 1 March 2013; Edited by: G. Mindlin; DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4279/PIP.050002

Cite as: M L Fernández, M Otero, N Schweigmann, H G Solari, Papers in Physics 5, 050002 (2013)