Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Math Biosci. 2006 Aug;202(2):269-87. Epub 2006 Apr 24.

Combinatorial decomposition of an outbreak signature.

Author information

  • 1Department of Public Health and Family Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine, 136 Harrison Avenue, Boston, MA 02111, USA. <>


We use mathematically rigorous definitions of epidemiological concepts in order to derive a sequential combinatorial model of disease outbreak decomposition. We define the idea of a population specific 'disease signature' and use this in order to decompose and further understand outbreaks as incidents of spatial and temporal spread of disease exposure both in, and across, populations. This allows us to differentiate between different disease spread scenarios with a level of sensitivity that previous models were unable to provide. This perspective leads us to propose a new practical definition for 'outbreak'. In addition, we are able to use this model to understand, estimate, and, in some cases, correct for, the likely instances of reporting error inherent in disease surveillance. We demonstrate our model first with a hypothetical outbreak scenario and then in an analysis of suspected outbreaks of waterborne diseases in Massachusetts (MA) in 1995.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk