Comparing approaches for modelling indirect contact transmission of infectious diseases

Amanda M. Wilson, Mark H. Weir, Marco Felipe King, Rachael M. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Mathematical models describing indirect contact transmission are an important component of infectious disease mitigation and risk assessment. A model that tracks microorganisms between compartments by coupled ordinary differential equations or a Markov chain is benchmarked against a mechanistic interpretation of the physical transfer of microorganisms from surfaces to fingers and subsequently to a susceptible person's facial mucosal membranes. The primary objective was to compare these models in their estimates of doses and changes in microorganism concentrations on hands and fomites over time. The abilities of the models to capture the impact of episodic events, such as hand hygiene, and of contact patterns were also explored. For both models, greater doses were estimated for the asymmetrical scenarios in which a more contaminated fomite was touched more often. Differing representations of hand hygiene in the Markov model did not notably impact estimated doses but affected pathogen concentration dynamics on hands. When using the Markov model, losses due to hand hygiene should be handled as separate events as opposed to time-averaging expected losses. The discrete event model demonstrated the effect of hand-to-mouth contact timing on the dose. Understanding how model design influences estimated doses is important for advancing models as reliable risk assessment tools.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20210281
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Issue number182
StatePublished - Sep 1 2021


  • exposure
  • indirect contact
  • infectious disease modelling
  • virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering


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