A Method for Detecting and Characterizing Multiple Outbreaks of Infectious Diseases
Outbreaks of infectious diseases such as influenza, SARS, and Ebola pose significant threats to human health. Early detection and characterization of outbreaks are crucial to containing and managing them. I will describe previous work on a system that processes emergency department reports for individual patients, computes probabilities of individual diseases, and builds epidemiological models of outbreaks. I will also describe current research to extend this work to cover multiple, simultaneous outbreaks of influenza and influenza-like illnesses. The extension to multiple outbreaks is not only important to model natural diseases, but is also important to detect deliberate chemical or biological attacks that may be planned to occur during naturally occurring outbreaks to hinder their detection.