Modeling Infectious Disease Transmission

Disease Transmission

The need to better understand the transmission of infectious agents has been underscored by recent events, including the international SARS crisis and reports of the considerable burden of disease associated with infections acquired in hospitals. Many questions remain regarding the best way to reduce transmission of infectious agents. The answers are of great interest to public health as well as to the health care, food service and consumer products industries.

The transfer of pathogens between patients and health care workers in a hospital is an important consideration in developing hospital policies and procedures. Hospitals may implement one or more mitigation strategies (e.g. gloves and other barriers, isolation of patients, hand hygiene products or procedures) to reduce the incidences of infection due to pathogen transfer. These mitigation strategies are implemented in a very complex and dynamic environment. Computer simulation of the transmission and mitigation processes can improve our understanding of exactly how the system generates and propagates risk and how to most effectively manage it.


GoldSim was used to model the transfer of pathogens between patients and health care workers in a hospital. The model generated simulated outbreaks in hospital wards, where the onset, extent of spread, and control of the outbreak is a manifestation of natural variability and the impact of simulated control strategies.

Additional Reading

For more information, check out the full article in the Fall 2003 newsletter.


Making Better Decisions In An Uncertain World