Generalized Markov Models of Infectious Disease Spread: A Novel Framework for Developing Dynamic Health Policies

Eur J Oper Res. 2011 Dec 16;215(3):679-687. doi: 10.1016/j.ejor.2011.07.016.


We propose a class of mathematical models for the transmission of infectious diseases in large populations. This class of models, which generalizes the existing discrete-time Markov chain models of infectious diseases, is compatible with efficient dynamic optimization techniques to assist real-time selection and modification of public health interventions in response to evolving epidemiological situations and changing availability of information and medical resources. While retaining the strength of existing classes of mathematical models in their ability to represent the within-host natural history of disease and between-host transmission dynamics, the proposed models possess two advantages over previous models: (1) these models can be used to generate optimal dynamic health policies for controlling spreads of infectious diseases, and (2) these models are able to approximate the spread of the disease in relatively large populations with a limited state space size and computation time.