This article overviews the dynamics of disease transmission in one-host–one-parasite systems. Transmission is the result of interacting host and pathogen processes, encapsulated with the environment in a ‘transmission triangle’. Multiple transmission modes and their epidemiological consequences are often not understood because the direct measurement of transmission is difficult. However, its different components can be analysed using nonlinear transmission functions, contact matrices and networks. A particular challenge is to develop such functions for spatially extended systems. This is illustrated for vector transmission where a ‘perception kernel’ approach is developed that incorporates vector behaviour in response to host spacing. A major challenge is understanding the relative merits of the large number of approaches to quantifying transmission. The evolution of transmission mode itself has been a rather neglected topic, but is important in the context of understanding disease emergence and genetic variation in pathogens. Disease impacts many biological processes such as community stability, the evolution of sex and speciation, yet the importance of different transmission modes in these processes is not understood. Broader approaches and ideas to disease transmission are important in the public health realm for combating newly emerging infections.
This article is part of the themed issue ‘Opening the black box: re-examining the ecology and evolution of parasite transmission’.
One contribution of 16 to a theme issue ‘Opening the black box: re-examining the ecology and evolution of parasite transmission’.
- Accepted August 25, 2016.
- © 2017 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.