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Tracking Epidemics With Google Flu Trends Data and a State-Space SEIR Model


  • Vanja Dukic
  • Hedibert F. Lopes
  • Nicholas G. Polson


In this article, we use Google Flu Trends data together with a sequential surveillance model based on state-space methodology to track the evolution of an epidemic process over time. We embed a classical mathematical epidemiology model [a susceptible-exposed-infected-recovered (SEIR) model] within the state-space framework, thereby extending the SEIR dynamics to allow changes through time. The implementation of this model is based on a particle filtering algorithm, which learns about the epidemic process sequentially through time and provides updated estimated odds of a pandemic with each new surveillance data point. We show how our approach, in combination with sequential Bayes factors, can serve as an online diagnostic tool for influenza pandemic. We take a close look at the Google Flu Trends data describing the spread of flu in the United States during 2003--2009 and in nine separate U.S. states chosen to represent a wide range of health care and emergency system strengths and weaknesses. This article has online supplementary materials.

Suggested Citation

  • Vanja Dukic & Hedibert F. Lopes & Nicholas G. Polson, 2012. "Tracking Epidemics With Google Flu Trends Data and a State-Space SEIR Model," Journal of the American Statistical Association, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 107(500), pages 1410-1426, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jnlasa:v:107:y:2012:i:500:p:1410-1426
    DOI: 10.1080/01621459.2012.713876

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    Cited by:

    1. Baek, Changryong & Davis, Richard A. & Pipiras, Vladas, 2017. "Sparse seasonal and periodic vector autoregressive modeling," Computational Statistics & Data Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 103-126.
    2. repec:eee:ecmode:v:70:y:2018:i:c:p:194-202 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Paul Fearnhead & Vasilieos Giagos & Chris Sherlock, 2014. "Inference for reaction networks using the linear noise approximation," Biometrics, The International Biometric Society, vol. 70(2), pages 457-466, June.
    4. repec:bla:biomet:v:73:y:2017:i:1:p:283-293 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Zeynalov, Ayaz, 2014. "Nowcasting Tourist Arrivals to Prague: Google Econometrics," MPRA Paper 60945, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Zeynalov, Ayaz, 2017. "Forecasting Tourist Arrivals in Prague: Google Econometrics," MPRA Paper 83268, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Lili Zhuang & Noel Cressie, 2014. "Bayesian hierarchical statistical SIRS models," Statistical Methods & Applications, Springer;Società Italiana di Statistica, vol. 23(4), pages 601-646, November.
    8. Andrew Hoegh & Marco A. R. Ferreira & Scotland Leman, 2016. "Spatiotemporal model fusion: multiscale modelling of civil unrest," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series C, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 65(4), pages 529-545, August.

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