Discussion: Source of infection


The Field Epidemiology Manual provides a set of core training materials reflecting the essential competencies required by intervention epidemiologists.

Discussion: Source of infection

  • I am a little bit confused. According Czech definition  source of infections can be  human, animal , or enviromental in origin ( only for legionela or some kind of mycobacterium).

    Food , watrer etc are vehicles of infection.

    Your example with  a chocolate  cake .... cake is vehicle, eggs used are vehicles and hen is source.

    Who first defined the source of infection?


  • Good question Jana, thank you. and I believe you are right. I am not completely sure if my interpretation is correct. This is how I understand it:

    - Source is a broad concept that could cover people, animals, or inanimate objects.

    - the term 'vehicle' is mostly used for specific type of sources in the specific context of indirect transmission routes: the transmission route can be vehicle borne, vector borne or airborne

    So indeed, in the example, the chocolate cake etc are specific sources that can be called 'vehicles'.

    This is how I interpret the information in the reference of David Heymann. Please let me know what you think about that.

  • Dear Arnold,

    I understand however I think it is a little bit complicated for those who are not experienced in epidemiology. It is a pity that there is not an  international definition. I have read in The Lancet " ....such travel is an important source of infection". According to Czech definition it is a nonsence and e.g. student  wouldn't pass his/her exam if he told this to the teacher.



  • Dear Jana

    Thank you again. Perhaps this is a good reason that we could try to find an easier and more simple way of defining those concepts in the chapter online. For this purpose we have developed this FEMWIKI, to allow a larger group of experts provide input and exchange views.

    If you would like, we would welcome some new texts that you could provide, in the chapter above, with the aim to reduce confusion.

    This can be done by clicking on the 'edit' button on top of the chapter. Feel free to ask for some clarification if needed.

    Best regards


  • I will try to find the clearest one.Jana

  • Dears

    I just had a little trigger for this discussion. If the agents can survive and multiply in water e.g. vibrio and other mentioned here above then water is a source. Otherwise it's a vehiculum. This has implications for investigation of the source.