Journal of Public Health Policy

, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 328–341 | Cite as

Controlling infectious disease outbreaks: Lessons from mathematical modelling

  • T Déirdre Hollingsworth
Original Article


Epidemiological analysis and mathematical models are now essential tools in understanding the dynamics of infectious diseases and in designing public health strategies to contain them. They have provided fundamental concepts, such as the basic and effective reproduction number, generation times, epidemic growth rates, and the role of pre-symptomatic infectiousness, which are crucial in characterising infectious diseases. These concepts are outlined and their relevance in designing control policies for outbreaks is discussed. They are illustrated using examples from the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak, which was brought under control within a year, and from pandemic influenza planning, where mathematical models have been used extensively.


pandemic influenza SARS mathematical model 



The author would like to thank Roy Anderson, Ruth Chapman, Neil Ferguson, Christophe Fraser and Nicholas Grassly for helpful discussions, and Tom Johnston for assistance with Figure 1 and gratefully acknowledges funding from the EU Sixth Framework Programme for research for policy support (SARSTRANS, contact SP22-CT-2004-511066).


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • T Déirdre Hollingsworth
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Infectious Disease EpidemiologyMRC Centre for Outbreak Analysis and Modelling, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College LondonLondonUK

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