Influenzanet & C.: a Journal of Infectious Diseases special issue explores projects of Big Data for Surveillance and Modeling

Big Data for Infectious Disease Surveillance and Modeling” is a special December issue of The Journal of Infectious Diseases. Co-edited by Alessandro Vespignani (Northeastern University, Vice-Chair of ISI Foundation Scientific Advisory Board), it includes ten articles exploring how big data derived from electronic health records, social media, Internet and other digital sources may provide timely and detailed information of infectious disease threats or outbreaks, serving as a complement to traditional surveillance methods.

Influenzanet is one of the scientific projects reviewed in the journal. In “Participatory Syndromic Surveillance of Influenza in Europe”, a team of researchers including ISI Foundation Research Leaders Vittoria Colizza and Daniela Paolotti and ISI PhD Student Daniela Perrotta illustrates how this longstanding European participatory system for the surveillance of inluenza-like illness (ILI) has become an adjunct to existing surveillance networks, offering coherence across countries, inclusion of nonmedically attended ILI, flexibility in case definition, and facilitating individual-level epidemiological analyses generally not possible in standard systems.

Originally launched in the Netherlands and Belgium in 2003, soon followed by local systems in many other European countries (like the Italian Influweb , coordinated by ISI Foundation), Influenzanet now includes 10 countries, representing more than half of the European Union population. Using standardized online surveys to gather information from volunteers who self-report their symptoms, Influenzanet has the sensitivity to timely detect substantial changes in population health and the potential to become a viable instrument for a wide variety of applications in public health preparedness and control (with likely non-ILI expansions, as showed by first experiments that include Zika, salmonella and other diseases).

“Participatory Syndromic Surveillance of Influenza in Europe”, in “Big Data for Infectious Disease Surveillance and Modeling”, The Journal of the Infectious Diseases, December 2016. Link: http://jid.oxfordjournals.org/content/214/suppl_4.toc