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      Forecasting seasonal outbreaks of influenza

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      Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
      Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

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          Abstract

          Influenza recurs seasonally in temperate regions of the world; however, our ability to predict the timing, duration, and magnitude of local seasonal outbreaks of influenza remains limited. Here we develop a framework for initializing real-time forecasts of seasonal influenza outbreaks, using a data assimilation technique commonly applied in numerical weather prediction. The availability of real-time, web-based estimates of local influenza infection rates makes this type of quantitative forecasting possible. Retrospective ensemble forecasts are generated on a weekly basis following assimilation of these web-based estimates for the 2003-2008 influenza seasons in New York City. The findings indicate that real-time skillful predictions of peak timing can be made more than 7 wk in advance of the actual peak. In addition, confidence in those predictions can be inferred from the spread of the forecast ensemble. This work represents an initial step in the development of a statistically rigorous system for real-time forecast of seasonal influenza.

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          Most cited references13

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          Transmissibility of 1918 pandemic influenza

          The 1918 influenza pandemic killed 20–40 million people worldwide 1 , and is seen as a worst-case scenario for pandemic planning. Like other pandemic influenza strains, the 1918 A/H1N1 strain spread extremely rapidly. A measure of transmissibility and of the stringency of control measures required to stop an epidemic is the reproductive number, which is the number of secondary cases produced by each primary case 2 . Here we obtained an estimate of the reproductive number for 1918 influenza by fitting a deterministic SEIR (susceptible-exposed-infectious-recovered) model to pneumonia and influenza death epidemic curves from 45 US cities: the median value is less than three. The estimated proportion of the population with A/H1N1 immunity before September 1918 implies a median basic reproductive number of less than four. These results strongly suggest that the reproductive number for 1918 pandemic influenza is not large relative to many other infectious diseases 2 . In theory, a similar novel influenza subtype could be controlled. But because influenza is frequently transmitted before a specific diagnosis is possible and there is a dearth of global antiviral and vaccine stores, aggressive transmission reducing measures will probably be required. Supplementary information The online version of this article (doi:10.1038/nature03063) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
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            A Monte Carlo Implementation of the Nonlinear Filtering Problem to Produce Ensemble Assimilations and Forecasts

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              Improved Weather and Seasonal Climate Forecasts from Multimodel Superensemble

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                0027-8424
                1091-6490
                December 11 2012
                December 11 2012
                November 26 2012
                December 11 2012
                : 109
                : 50
                : 20425-20430
                Article
                10.1073/pnas.1208772109
                3528592
                23184969
                f0f54ad4-d8cc-421d-81f5-4555efd101fe
                © 2012
                History

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