Analysing page view data of Wikipedia articles can be used to effectively monitor and forecast disease outbreaks across the globe.
Dr Sara Del Valle and her team from Los Alamos National Laboratory successfully monitored influenza outbreaks in the United States, Poland, Japan and Thailand, dengue fever in Brazil and Thailand, and tuberculosis in China and Thailand.
The team was also able to forecast all but one of these outbreaks (tuberculosis in China) at least 28 days in advance.
The results indicate people start searching for information on Wikipedia before they seek medical help.
Sara Del Valle says a global disease-forecasting system will change the way we respond to epidemics.
“In the same way we check the weather each morning, individuals and public health officials can monitor disease incidence and plan for the future based on today’s forecast,” she says.
“The goal of this research is to build an operational disease monitoring and forecasting system with open data and open source code.”
The research is published in the journal PLOS Computational Biology.
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