ABSTRACT: In the 2015 NOAA Dengue Challenge, participants made three dengue target predictions for two locations (Iquitos, Peru, and San Juan, Puerto Rico) during four dengue seasons: 1) peak height (i.e., maximum weekly number of cases during a transmission season; 2) peak week (i.e., week in which the maximum weekly number of cases occurred); and 3) total number of cases reported during a transmission season. A dengue transmission season is the 12-month period commencing with the location-specific, historical week with the lowest number of cases. At the beginning of the Dengue Challenge, participants were provided with the same input data for developing the models, with the prediction testing data provided at a later date.Our approach used ensemble models created by combining three disparate types of component models: 1) two-dimensional Method of Analogues models incorporating both dengue and climate data; 2) additive seasonal Holt-Winters models with and without wavelet smoothing; and 3) simple historical models. Of the individual component models created, those with the best performance on the prior four years of data were incorporated into the ensemble models. There were separate ensembles for predicting each of the three targets at each of the two locations.Our ensemble models scored higher for peak height and total dengue case counts reported in a transmission season for Iquitos than all other models submitted to the Dengue Challenge. However, the ensemble models did not do nearly as well when predicting the peak week.The Dengue Challenge organizers scored the dengue predictions of the Challenge participant groups. Our ensemble approach was the best in predicting the total number of dengue cases reported for transmission season and peak height for Iquitos, Peru.
Project description:<h4>Introduction</h4>Long-term disease surveillance data provide a basis for studying drivers of pathogen transmission dynamics. Dengue is a mosquito-borne disease caused by four distinct, but related, viruses (DENV-1-4) that potentially affect over half the world's population. Dengue incidence varies seasonally and on longer time scales, presumably driven by the interaction of climate and host susceptibility. Precise understanding of dengue dynamics is constrained, however, by the relative paucity of laboratory-confirmed longitudinal data.<h4>Methods</h4>We studied 10 years (2000-2010) of laboratory-confirmed, clinic-based surveillance data collected in Iquitos, Peru. We characterized inter and intra-annual patterns of dengue dynamics on a weekly time scale using wavelet analysis. We explored the relationships of case counts to climatic variables with cross-correlation maps on annual and trimester bases.<h4>Findings</h4>Transmission was dominated by single serotypes, first DENV-3 (2001-2007) then DENV-4 (2008-2010). After 2003, incidence fluctuated inter-annually with outbreaks usually occurring between October and April. We detected a strong positive autocorrelation in case counts at a lag of ? 70 weeks, indicating a shift in the timing of peak incidence year-to-year. All climatic variables showed modest seasonality and correlated weakly with the number of reported dengue cases across a range of time lags. Cases were reduced after citywide insecticide fumigation if conducted early in the transmission season.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Dengue case counts peaked seasonally despite limited intra-annual variation in climate conditions. Contrary to expectations for this mosquito-borne disease, no climatic variable considered exhibited a strong relationship with transmission. Vector control operations did, however, appear to have a significant impact on transmission some years. Our results indicate that a complicated interplay of factors underlie DENV transmission in contexts such as Iquitos.
Project description:A wide range of research has promised new tools for forecasting infectious disease dynamics, but little of that research is currently being applied in practice, because tools do not address key public health needs, do not produce probabilistic forecasts, have not been evaluated on external data, or do not provide sufficient forecast skill to be useful. We developed an open collaborative forecasting challenge to assess probabilistic forecasts for seasonal epidemics of dengue, a major global public health problem. Sixteen teams used a variety of methods and data to generate forecasts for 3 epidemiological targets (peak incidence, the week of the peak, and total incidence) over 8 dengue seasons in Iquitos, Peru and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Forecast skill was highly variable across teams and targets. While numerous forecasts showed high skill for midseason situational awareness, early season skill was low, and skill was generally lowest for high incidence seasons, those for which forecasts would be most valuable. A comparison of modeling approaches revealed that average forecast skill was lower for models including biologically meaningful data and mechanisms and that both multimodel and multiteam ensemble forecasts consistently outperformed individual model forecasts. Leveraging these insights, data, and the forecasting framework will be critical to improve forecast skill and the application of forecasts in real time for epidemic preparedness and response. Moreover, key components of this project-integration with public health needs, a common forecasting framework, shared and standardized data, and open participation-can help advance infectious disease forecasting beyond dengue.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Dengue infection is endemic in many regions throughout the world. While insecticide fogging targeting the vector mosquito Aedes aegypti is a major control measure against dengue epidemics, the impact of this method remains controversial. A previous mathematical simulation study indicated that insecticide fogging minimized cases when conducted soon after peak disease prevalence, although the impact was minimal, possibly because seasonality and population immunity were not considered. Periodic outbreak patterns are also highly influenced by seasonal climatic conditions. Thus, these factors are important considerations when assessing the effect of vector control against dengue. We used mathematical simulations to identify the appropriate timing of insecticide fogging, considering seasonal change of vector populations, and to evaluate its impact on reducing dengue cases with various levels of transmission intensity.<h4>Methodology/principal findings</h4>We created the Susceptible-Exposed-Infectious-Recovered (SEIR) model of dengue virus transmission. Mosquito lifespan was assumed to change seasonally and the optimal timing of insecticide fogging to minimize dengue incidence under various lengths of the wet season was investigated. We also assessed whether insecticide fogging was equally effective at higher and lower endemic levels by running simulations over a 500-year period with various transmission intensities to produce an endemic state. In contrast to the previous study, the optimal application of insecticide fogging was between the onset of the wet season and the prevalence peak. Although it has less impact in areas that have higher endemicity and longer wet seasons, insecticide fogging can prevent a considerable number of dengue cases if applied at the optimal time.<h4>Conclusions/significance</h4>The optimal timing of insecticide fogging and its impact on reducing dengue cases were greatly influenced by seasonality and the level of transmission intensity. We suggest that these factors should be considered when planning a control strategy against dengue vectors.
Project description:Background. Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne viral disease and a regular epidemic in Thailand. The peak of the dengue epidemic period is around June to August during the rainy season. It is believed that climate is an important factor for dengue transmission. Method. A mathematical model for vector-host infectious disease was used to calculate the impacts of climate to the transmission of dengue virus. In this study, the data of climate and dengue fever cases were derived from Chiang Mai during 2004-2014, Thailand. The value of seasonal reproduction number was calculated to evaluate the potential, severity and persistence of dengue infection. Results. The mosquito population was increasing exponentially from the start of the rainy season in early May and reached its the peak in late June. The simulations suggest that the greatest potential for the dengue transmission occurs when the temperature is 28.9 °C. The seasonal reproduction numbers were larger than one from late March to end of August and reaching the peak in June. The highest incidences occurred in August due to the delay of transmission humans-mosquito-humans. Increasing mean temperature by 1 °C, the number of incidences increases 28.1%. However, a very high or very low temperature reduces the number of infection. Discussion and Conclusion. The results show that the dengue infection depends on the seasonal variation of the climate. The rainfall provides places for the mosquitoes to lay eggs and develop to the adult stage. The temperature plays an important role in the life cycle and behavior of the mosquitoes. A very high or very low temperature reduces the risk of the dengue infection.
Project description:Since 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has hosted an annual influenza season forecasting challenge. The 2015-2016 challenge consisted of weekly probabilistic forecasts of multiple targets, including fourteen models submitted by eleven teams. Forecast skill was evaluated using a modified logarithmic score. We averaged submitted forecasts into a mean ensemble model and compared them against predictions based on historical trends. Forecast skill was highest for seasonal peak intensity and short-term forecasts, while forecast skill for timing of season onset and peak week was generally low. Higher forecast skill was associated with team participation in previous influenza forecasting challenges and utilization of ensemble forecasting techniques. The mean ensemble consistently performed well and outperformed historical trend predictions. CDC and contributing teams will continue to advance influenza forecasting and work to improve the accuracy and reliability of forecasts to facilitate increased incorporation into public health response efforts.
Project description:Seasonal influenza results in substantial annual morbidity and mortality in the United States and worldwide. Accurate forecasts of key features of influenza epidemics, such as the timing and severity of the peak incidence in a given season, can inform public health response to outbreaks. As part of ongoing efforts to incorporate data and advanced analytical methods into public health decision-making, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has organized seasonal influenza forecasting challenges since the 2013/2014 season. In the 2017/2018 season, 22 teams participated. A subset of four teams created a research consortium called the FluSight Network in early 2017. During the 2017/2018 season they worked together to produce a collaborative multi-model ensemble that combined 21 separate component models into a single model using a machine learning technique called stacking. This approach creates a weighted average of predictive densities where the weight for each component is determined by maximizing overall ensemble accuracy over past seasons. In the 2017/2018 influenza season, one of the largest seasonal outbreaks in the last 15 years, this multi-model ensemble performed better on average than all individual component models and placed second overall in the CDC challenge. It also outperformed the baseline multi-model ensemble created by the CDC that took a simple average of all models submitted to the forecasting challenge. This project shows that collaborative efforts between research teams to develop ensemble forecasting approaches can bring measurable improvements in forecast accuracy and important reductions in the variability of performance from year to year. Efforts such as this, that emphasize real-time testing and evaluation of forecasting models and facilitate the close collaboration between public health officials and modeling researchers, are essential to improving our understanding of how best to use forecasts to improve public health response to seasonal and emerging epidemic threats.
Project description:As a common vector-borne disease, dengue fever remains challenging to predict due to large variations in epidemic size across seasons driven by a number of factors including population susceptibility, mosquito density, meteorological conditions, geographical factors, and human mobility. An ensemble forecast system for dengue fever is first proposed that addresses the difficulty of predicting outbreaks with drastically different scales. The ensemble forecast system based on a susceptible-infected-recovered (SIR) type of compartmental model coupled with a data assimilation method called the ensemble adjusted Kalman filter (EAKF) is constructed to generate real-time forecasts of dengue fever spread dynamics. The model was informed by meteorological and mosquito density information to depict the transmission of dengue virus among human and mosquito populations, and generate predictions. To account for the dramatic variations of outbreak size in different seasons, the effective population size parameter that is sequentially updated to adjust the predicted outbreak scale is introduced into the model. Before optimizing the transmission model, we update the effective population size using the most recent observations and historical records so that the predicted outbreak size is dynamically adjusted. In the retrospective forecast of dengue outbreaks in Guangzhou, China during the 2011-2017 seasons, the proposed forecast model generates accurate projections of peak timing, peak intensity, and total incidence, outperforming a generalized additive model approach. The ensemble forecast system can be operated in real-time and inform control planning to reduce the burden of dengue fever.
Project description:The recent emergence and established presence of Aedes aegypti in the Autonomous Region of Madeira, Portugal, was responsible for the first autochthonous outbreak of dengue in Europe. The island has not reported any dengue cases since the outbreak in 2012. However, there is a high risk that an introduction of the virus would result in another autochthonous outbreak given the presence of the vector and permissive environmental conditions. Understanding the dynamics of a potential epidemic is critical for targeted local control strategies. Here, we adopt a deterministic model for the transmission of dengue in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. The model integrates empirical and mechanistic parameters for virus transmission, under seasonally varying temperatures for Funchal, Madeira Island. We examine the epidemic dynamics as triggered by the arrival date of an infectious individual; the influence of seasonal temperature mean and variation on the epidemic dynamics; and performed a sensitivity analysis on the following quantities of interest: the epidemic peak size, time to peak, and the final epidemic size. Our results demonstrate the potential for summer and autumn season transmission of dengue, with the arrival date significantly affecting the distribution of the timing and peak size of the epidemic. Late-summer arrivals were more likely to produce large epidemics within a short peak time. Epidemics within this favorable period had an average of 11% of the susceptible population infected at the peak, at an average peak time of 95 days. We also demonstrated that seasonal temperature variation dramatically affects the epidemic dynamics, with warmer starting temperatures producing large epidemics with a short peak time and vice versa. Overall, our quantities of interest were most sensitive to variance in the date of arrival, seasonal temperature, transmission rates, mortality rate, and the mosquito population; the magnitude of sensitivity differs across quantities. Our model could serve as a useful guide in the development of effective local control and mitigation strategies for dengue fever in Madeira Island.
Project description:Pathogens inflict a wide variety of disease manifestations on their hosts, yet the impacts of disease on the behaviour of infected hosts are rarely studied empirically and are seldom accounted for in mathematical models of transmission dynamics. We explored the potential impacts of one of the most common disease manifestations, fever, on a key determinant of pathogen transmission, host mobility, in residents of the Amazonian city of Iquitos, Peru. We did so by comparing two groups of febrile individuals (dengue-positive and dengue-negative) with an afebrile control group. A retrospective, semi-structured interview allowed us to quantify multiple aspects of mobility during the two-week period preceding each interview. We fitted nested models of each aspect of mobility to data from interviews and compared models using likelihood ratio tests to determine whether there were statistically distinguishable differences in mobility attributable to fever or its aetiology. Compared with afebrile individuals, febrile study participants spent more time at home, visited fewer locations, and, in some cases, visited locations closer to home and spent less time at certain types of locations. These multifaceted impacts are consistent with the possibility that disease-mediated changes in host mobility generate dynamic and complex changes in host contact network structure.
Project description:Interpandemic or seasonal influenza A, currently subtypes H3N2 and H1N1, exacts an enormous annual burden both in terms of human health and economic impact. Incidence prediction ahead of season remains a challenge largely because of the virus' antigenic evolution. We propose a forecasting approach that incorporates evolutionary change into a mechanistic epidemiological model. The proposed models are simple enough that their parameters can be estimated from retrospective surveillance data. These models link amino acid sequences of hemagglutinin epitopes with a transmission model for seasonal H3N2 influenza, also informed by H1N1 levels. With a monthly time series of H3N2 incidence in the United States for more than 10 years, we demonstrate the feasibility of skillful prediction for total cases ahead of season, with a tendency to underpredict monthly peak epidemic size, and an accurate real-time forecast for the 2016/2017 influenza season.