Nav: Home

Improving researchers' abilities to forecast epidemics

March 08, 2019

An annual influenza season forecasting challenge issued by the US Centers for Disease Control provides unique insight into epidemic forecasting, according to a study published in the journal Scientific Reports.

The study, conducted by a large team of researchers, including biocomplexity scientist Matteo Convertino of Japan's Hokkaido University, analysed the forecasts of 14 predictive models submitted by 11 teams to the US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as part of its 2015-2016 influenza season forecasting challenge.

The CDC launched the annual challenge in 2013, encouraging academics and private industry researchers to forecast the timing, peak, and intensity of the flu season in the US. Previous efforts were directed toward forecasting Dengue fever. The general aim of the challenge is to improve influenza forecasting in order to better inform public health responses to seasonal epidemics and future pandemics.

Results from analyses of the submissions of the 2015-16 season show that forecasting skill, measured using a logarithmic score, was generally highest among the teams and their models for seasonal peak intensity and short-term forecasts, but was generally low for timing of season onset and peak week.

Forecasting skill was higher among teams that had participated in the challenge before, and also among teams that combined more than one model to develop their forecasts. When the researchers combined all team forecasts into a single ensemble model, they found it performed better compared to the results of each individual model.

"The results highlight the continuing challenge of improving forecast accuracy for more seasons and at lead times of several weeks or more; forecasts that would be of even more utility for public health officials," the researchers write. The results show that the CDC forecasting challenge provides unique insight into epidemic forecasting, they say.

The forecasting models used by the teams did provide valuable data, but future forecasts could be further improved as teams gain more experience and by using combined model approaches, they conclude.

"As the only ongoing infectious disease forecasting challenge in the United States, the CDC influenza forecasting challenge sets a model for other infectious diseases by identifying data and resource constraints that limit model development, establishing best practices for forecast submission and evaluation, identifying areas where forecasts can be improved, tying forecasting efforts to real public health needs, and assessing their performance related to those needs," say the researchers.
-end-
Models and data are available at https://predict.cdc.gov/

Hokkaido University

Related Disease Control Articles:

Is intensive blood pressure control associated with less progression of brain vascular disease?
Intensive blood pressure control among adults with high blood pressure was associated with a smaller increase in brain white matter lesions (a marker of small vessel disease and a risk factor for dementia) compared to standard blood pressure control, although the difference was small.
Scientists propose environmentally friendly control practices for harmful tomato disease
Tomato yellow leaf curl disease (TYLCD) is the most destructive disease of tomato, causing severe damage to crops worldwide and resulting in high economic losses.
Environmentally friendly control of common disease infecting fish and amphibians
Aquatic organisms in marine systems and freshwaters are threatened by fungal and fungal-like diseases globally.
Study supports glucocorticoid tapering in patients achieving disease control on tocilizumab
The results of a randomised controlled trial presented today at the Annual European Congress of Rheumatology (EULAR 2019) demonstrate high levels of treatment success in approximately two thirds of patients despite tapered glucocorticoid (GC) discontinuation, while a small loss of disease control was observed at the total study population level.
Children who use asthma tracking app have better disease control and fewer hospital visits
An app that allows parents and doctors to monitor a child's asthma has a big impact on managing the disease.
More Disease Control News and Disease Control Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#537 Science Journalism, Hold the Hype
Everyone's seen a piece of science getting over-exaggerated in the media. Most people would be quick to blame journalists and big media for getting in wrong. In many cases, you'd be right. But there's other sources of hype in science journalism. and one of them can be found in the humble, and little-known press release. We're talking with Chris Chambers about doing science about science journalism, and where the hype creeps in. Related links: The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study Claims of causality in health news: a randomised trial This...