Forecasting Epidemiological and Evolutionary Dynamics of Infectious Diseases

Trends Ecol Evol. 2016 Oct;31(10):776-788. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2016.07.010. Epub 2016 Aug 24.


Mathematical models have been powerful tools in developing mechanistic understanding of infectious diseases. Furthermore, they have allowed detailed forecasting of epidemiological phenomena such as outbreak size, which is of considerable public-health relevance. The short generation time of pathogens and the strong selection they are subjected to (by host immunity, vaccines, chemotherapy, etc.) mean that evolution is also a key driver of infectious disease dynamics. Accurate forecasting of pathogen dynamics therefore calls for the integration of epidemiological and evolutionary processes, yet this integration remains relatively rare. We review previous attempts to model and predict infectious disease dynamics with or without evolution and discuss major challenges facing the development of the emerging science of epidemic forecasting.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Communicable Diseases*
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological*