Summary: In all of the West Nile virus (WNV) compartmental models in the literature, the basic reproduction number serves as a crucial control threshold for the eradication of the virus. However, our study suggests that backward bifurcation is a common property shared by the available compartmental models with a logistic type of growth for the population of host birds. There exists a subthreshold condition for the outbreak of the virus due to the existence of backward bifurcations.
We first review and give a comparison study of the four available compartmental models for the virus, and focus on the analysis of the model proposed by G. Cruz-Pacheco et al. [Bull. Math. Biol. 67, No. 6, 1157 ff (2005)] to explore the backward bifurcation in the model. Our comparison study suggests that the mosquito population dynamics itself cannot explain the occurrence of the backward bifurcation, it is the higher mortality rate of the avian host due to the infection that determines the existence of backward bifurcations.