A simple approach to accurately predict disease outbreaks

via Royal Society Publishing
Article Highlights
  • Infectious diseases have a substantially growing impact on the health of communities around the world and pressure to both predict and prevent such diseases is ever-growing
  • Here is a simple approach to accurately predict disease outbreaks by combining novel statistical techniques and a large dataset on pathogen biogeography
  • “Our approach leverages data on the entire network of pathogens and countries in order to forecast potential pathogen outbreak, emergence and re-emergence events,” Dallas said. “Emergence events, which are first records of a pathogen recorded in a given country, are incredibly difficult to predict, as they are sort of by definition unexpected.”
  • “Infectious disease outbreaks, whether they be widespread like Influenza or fairly geographically restricted like Ebola, may be difficult to prevent,” he said. “However, if we can forecast outbreak potential in time, public health officials and governments can preemptively prepare for a potential outbreak event.”
  • “By combining aspects of community ecology into the study of human infectious disease, we were able to gain some insight into the distribution of pathogens at a global scale,” he said. “And to apply ideas across subfields, it helps to have a great team of collaborators from somewhat different fields, as I definitely found in Colin Carlson and Timothée Poisot.”
  • The rapid spread of pathogens can be accredited to growing contact between wildlife and humans, changes in climate and land use, food insecurity as well as geopolitical conflict.

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