Comprehensive Glossary for Infectious Disease Modelling


In the current literature, there is considerable heterogeneity in common terms related to infectious disease epidemiology and modelling. Furthermore, definitions of these terms are not often provided in research papers. This glossary presents a comprehensive list of terms and their definitions to unify the use and interpretation of infectious disease epidemiology and modelling terminology. Although the most frequently used definitions were included in this glossary, researchers may have alternative definitions for certain terms in the context of their research. Therefore, it is recommended that the readers first check for definitions provided by the authors when reading infectious disease mathematical modelling publications.


Agent‐based model

Types of mathematical models

Individuals in the model are described as discrete entities with their own characteristics. Also see individual-based model/micro-simulation model.

Analytical solution

General modelling terms
Solving equations to reach a solution pertaining to the relationships between model parameters and outcomes.

Antiviral treatment

Prevention and Treatment
Treatment used against viral infection to reduce symptoms, duration, and transmission of the disease.
A stage of disease where an infected individual does not have clinical symptoms but may transmit the pathogen (asymptomatic infectious). An asymptomatically infected individual may or may not develop clinical symptoms in the future (pre-symptomatic infection).
Proportion of a population infected over a certain period of time.
Used to describe host-pathogen interactions (compare Within-host model).

Calibration (model fitting)

General modelling terms
Fitting of model parameters to data. This is one step in model development to ensure that the model output is representative of the data used.
Surveillance strategy that can identify infectious individuals. The goal of Case detection is to reduce community transmission through isolation and/or treatment of infectious individuals within their households.
Proximity to an infectious individual or pathogen within a certain distance and for a set duration. The mode of infection (e.g., sexual, airborne), distance, and time required for a Close contact or for successful transmission to occur depends on pathogen. A Close contact may result in an individual becoming infected, but not always.
An illness that can be contracted through contact with an infected human, animal, or contaminated items carrying the pathogen. An infected person can transmit the Communicable disease to others.