It was created by researchers at Australia’s CSIRO ─ the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation ─ Queensland University of Technology and Queensland Health and draws on travel data from the International Air Transportation Association and dengue incidence rates from the Global Health Data Exchange.
This information enables it to derive new interests about the spreading dynamics of dengue.
The tool will assist public health authorities with dengue preparedness and enable them to identify locations where new dengue outbreaks may occur
The research is part of the Disease Networks and Mobility (DiNeMo) project aimed at developing a real-time alert and surveillance system for human infectious diseases.
"By understanding the travel behaviour of infected individuals, we can estimate the number of infections that are imported into different countries each month,” said Dr Jess Liebig, postdoctoral fellow at CSIRO's data science arm Data61. "The tool also determines the infections' country of origin and is able to uncover the routes along which dengue is most likely spread."
Professor Raja Jurdak of QUT said that one of the challenges facing disease tracking is that, oftentimes, symptomatic infections are not reported to health authorities due to low awareness levels and misdiagnosis. "Our tool is one of the first to be able to forecast the absolute number of dengue importations, rather than the relative risk, at a global level,” he said.
Dr Cassie Jansen, a researcher at Queensland Health, said that the tool will assist public health authorities with dengue preparedness and enable them to identify locations where new dengue outbreaks may occur, following the arrival of infected passengers.
The tool extends beyond dengue and can be applied to other vector-borne diseases of global concern such as malaria, Zika and chikungunya. This is good news and promises of the possibility of a future of safer and healthier international travel.