New Technique to forecast flu outbreaks in subtropical climates

Date: August 02, 2015

H1N1 the US influenza A

Scientists can forecast flu outbreaks in subtropical climates

Just like weather forecasting, scientists can now predict the timing and intensity of influenza outbreaks in subtropical climates, where flu seasons can occur at different times and more than once during a year.

Since the 2013-2014 season, scientists of Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health have published weekly regional flu forecasts for over 100 cities in the US.

Their system employs a computer model to generate multiple simulations that mimic the behaviour of an outbreak and are then knit together to generate an overall prediction.

In the new study, the researchers used data from a network of 50 outpatient clinics and laboratory reports in Hong Kong from 1998 to 2013 as a test case to retrospectively generate weekly flu forecasts.

The system was able to forecast both the peak timing and peak magnitude for 44 epidemics in 16 years caused by individual influenza strains, including influenza A (H3N2), influenza B, and both seasonal and the 2009 pandemic outbreaks of influenza A (H1N1).

 

Source:The Hindu