Conjunction of factors triggering waves of seasonal influenza

Chattopadhyay, Ishanu; Kiciman, Emre; Elliott, Joshua W.; Shaman, Jeffrey L.; Rzhetsky, Andrey

Using several longitudinal datasets describing putative factors affecting influenza incidence and clinical data on the disease and health status of over 150 million human subjects observed over a decade, we investigated the source and the mechanistic triggers of influenza epidemics. We conclude that the initiation of a pan-continental influenza wave emerges from the simultaneous realization of a complex set of conditions. The strongest predictor groups are as follows, ranked by importance: (1) the host population’s socio- and ethno-demographic properties; (2) weather variables pertaining to specific humidity, temperature, and solar radiation; (3) the virus’ antigenic drift over time; (4) the host population’€™s land-based travel habits, and; (5) recent spatio-temporal dynamics, as reflected in the influenza wave auto-correlation. The models we infer are demonstrably predictive (area under the Receiver Operating Characteristic curve 80%) when tested with out-of-sample data, opening the door to the potential formulation of new population-level intervention and mitigation policies.


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Environmental Health Sciences
Published Here
August 5, 2018