We introduce a class of growing network models that are directly applicable to epidemiology. We show how to construct a growing network model (individual-level model) that generates the same epidemic-level outcomes as a population-level ordinary differential equation (ODE) model. For concreteness, we analyze the susceptible-infected (SI) ODE model of disease invasion. First, we give an illustrative example of a growing network whose population-level variables are compatible with those of this ODE model. Second, we demonstrate that a growing network model can be found that is equivalent to the Crump-Mode-Jagers (CMJ) continuous-time branching process of the SI ODE model of disease invasion. We discuss the computational advantages that our growing network model has over the CMJ branching process.