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Nat Rev Microbiol. 2005 Jul;3(7):529-36.

New approaches to quantifying the spread of infection.

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Veterinary Epidemiology Group, Centre for Tropical Veterinary Medicine, University of Edinburgh, Easter Bush Veterinary Centre, Roslin, Midlothian, EH25 9RG, Scotland.


Recent major disease outbreaks, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome and foot-and-mouth disease in the UK, coupled with fears of emergence of human-to-human transmissible variants of avian influenza, have highlighted the importance of accurate quantification of disease threat when relatively few cases have occurred. Traditional approaches to mathematical modelling of infectious diseases deal most effectively with large outbreaks in large populations. The desire to elucidate the highly variable dynamics of disease spread amongst small numbers of individuals has fuelled the development of models that depend more directly on surveillance and contact-tracing data. This signals a move towards a closer interplay between epidemiological modelling, surveillance and disease-management strategies.

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