Stochastic modelling of infectious diseases for heterogeneous populations

Rui Xing Ming, Jiming LIU, Kwok Wai CHEUNG, Xiang WAN*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Infectious diseases such as SARS and H1N1 can significantly impact people's lives and cause severe social and economic damages. Recent outbreaks have stressed the urgency of effective research on the dynamics of infectious disease spread. However, it is difficult to predict when and where outbreaks may emerge and how infectious diseases spread because many factors affect their transmission, and some of them may be unknown. Methods: One feasible means to promptly detect an outbreak and track the progress of disease spread is to implement surveillance systems in regional or national health and medical centres. The accumulated surveillance data, including temporal, spatial, clinical, and demographic information can provide valuable information that can be exploited to better understand and model the dynamics of infectious disease spread. The aim of this work is to develop and empirically evaluate a stochastic model that allows the investigation of transmission patterns of infectious diseases in heterogeneous populations. Results: We test the proposed model on simulation data and apply it to the surveillance data from the 2009 H1N1 pandemic in Hong Kong. In the simulation experiment, our model achieves high accuracy in parameter estimation (less than 10.0 % mean absolute percentage error). In terms of the forward prediction of case incidence, the mean absolute percentage errors are 17.3 % for the simulation experiment and 20.0 % for the experiment on the real surveillance data. Conclusion: We propose a stochastic model to study the dynamics of infectious disease spread in heterogeneous populations from temporal-spatial surveillance data. The proposed model is evaluated using both simulated data and the real data from the 2009 H1N1 epidemic in Hong Kong and achieves acceptable prediction accuracy. We believe that our model can provide valuable insights for public health authorities to predict the effect of disease spread and analyse its underlying factors and to guide new control efforts.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107
JournalInfectious Diseases of Poverty
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 22 Dec 2016

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases

User-Defined Keywords

  • Epidemiology
  • Spread pattern
  • Stochastic model
  • Surveillance system


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