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Journal of Theoretical Biology


The case fatality and illness rates associated with L. monocytogenes continue to pose a serious public health burden despite the significant efforts and control protocol administered by private and public sectors. Due to the advance in surveillance and improvement in detection methodology, the knowledge of sources, transmission routes, growth potential in food process units and storage, effect of pH and temperature are well understood. However, the with-in host growth and transmission mechanisms of L. monocytogenes, particularly within the human host, remain unclear, largely due to the limited access to scientific experimentation on the human population. In order to provide insight towards the human immune response to the infection caused by L. monocytogenes, we develop a with-in host mathematical model. The model explains, in terms of biological parameters, the states of asymptomatic infection, mild infection and systemic infection leading to listeriosis. The activation and proliferation of T-cells are found to be critical for the susceptibility of the infection. Utilizing stability analysis and numerical simulation, the ranges of the critical parameters relative to infection states are established. Bifurcation analysis shows the impact of the differences of these parameters on the dynamics of the model. Finally, we present model applications in regards to predicting the risk potential of listeriosis relative to the susceptible human population.