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Data-model fusion to better understand emerging pathogens and improve infectious disease forecasting.

Authors
  • LaDeau, Shannon L1
  • Glass, Gregory E
  • Hobbs, N Thompson
  • Latimer, Andrew
  • Ostfeld, Richard S
  • 1 Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Millbrook, New York 12545, USA. [email protected]
Type
Published Article
Journal
Ecological Applications
Publisher
Wiley (John Wiley & Sons)
Publication Date
Jul 01, 2011
Volume
21
Issue
5
Pages
1443–1460
Identifiers
PMID: 21830694
Source
Medline
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

Ecologists worldwide are challenged to contribute solutions to urgent and pressing environmental problems by forecasting how populations, communities, and ecosystems will respond to global change. Rising to this challenge requires organizing ecological information derived from diverse sources and formally assimilating data with models of ecological processes. The study of infectious disease has depended on strategies for integrating patterns of observed disease incidence with mechanistic process models since John Snow first mapped cholera cases around a London water pump in 1854. Still, zoonotic and vector-borne diseases increasingly affect human populations, and methods used to successfully characterize directly transmitted diseases are often insufficient. We use four case studies to demonstrate that advances in disease forecasting require better understanding of zoonotic host and vector populations, as well of the dynamics that facilitate pathogen amplification and disease spillover into humans. In each case study, this goal is complicated by limited data, spatiotemporal variability in pathogen transmission and impact, and often, insufficient biological understanding. We present a conceptual framework for data-model fusion in infectious disease research that addresses these fundamental challenges using a hierarchical state-space structure to (1) integrate multiple data sources and spatial scales to inform latent parameters, (2) partition uncertainty in process and observation models, and (3) explicitly build upon existing ecological and epidemiological understanding. Given the constraints inherent in the study of infectious disease and the urgent need for progress, fusion of data and expertise via this type of conceptual framework should prove an indispensable tool.

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