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Challenges and Opportunities in Disease Forecasting in Outbreak Settings: A Case Study of Measles in Lola Prefecture, Guinea

Author(s): Ferrari, Matthew J.; Metcalf, C. Jessica E.; Graham, Matthew; Prikazsky, Vladimir; Takahashi, Saki; et al

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Abstract: We report on and evaluate the process and findings of a real-time modeling exercise in response to an outbreak of measles in Lola prefecture, Guinea, in early 2015 in the wake of the Ebola crisis. Multiple statistical methods for the estimation of the size of the susceptible (i.e., unvaccinated) population were applied to weekly reported measles case data on seven subprefectures throughout Lola. Stochastic compartmental models were used to project future measles incidence in each subprefecture in both an initial and a follow-up iteration of forecasting. Measles susceptibility among 1- to 5-year-olds was estimated to be between 24% and 43% at the beginning of the outbreak. Based on this high baseline susceptibility, initial projections forecasted a large outbreak occurring over approximately 10 weeks and infecting 40 children per 1,000. Subsequent forecasts based on updated data mitigated this initial projection, but still predicted a significant outbreak. A catch-up vaccination campaign took place at the same time as this second forecast and measles cases quickly receded. Of note, case reports used to fit models changed significantly between forecast rounds. Model-based projections of both current population risk and future incidence can help in setting priorities and planning during an outbreak response. A swiftly changing situation on the ground, coupled with data uncertainties and the need to adjust standard analytical approaches to deal with sparse data, presents significant challenges. Appropriate presentation of results as planning scenarios, as well as presentations of uncertainty and two-way communication, is essential to the effective use of modeling studies in outbreak response.
Publication Date: 9-May-2018
Citation: Ferrari, Matthew J., Metcalf, C. Jessica E., Graham, Matthew, Prikazsky, Vladimir, Takahashi, Saki, Jimenez, A. Paez, Lessler, Justin, Suk, Jonathan E. (2018). Challenges and Opportunities in Disease Forecasting in Outbreak Settings: A Case Study of Measles in Lola Prefecture, Guinea. The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 98 (5), 1489 - 1497. doi:10.4269/ajtmh.17-0218
DOI: doi:10.4269/ajtmh.17-0218
ISSN: 0002-9637
EISSN: 1476-1645
Pages: 1489 - 1497
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Version: Final published version. This is an open access article.

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