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Emerg Infect Dis. 2004 May;10(5):802-9.

Seasonal forecast of St. Louis encephalitis virus transmission, Florida.

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Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA.


Disease transmission forecasts can help minimize human and domestic animal health risks by indicating where disease control and prevention efforts should be focused. For disease systems in which weather-related variables affect pathogen proliferation, dispersal, or transmission, the potential for disease forecasting exists. We present a seasonal forecast of St. Louis encephalitis virus transmission in Indian River County, Florida. We derive an empiric relationship between modeled land surface wetness and levels of SLEV transmission in humans. We then use these data to forecast SLEV transmission with a seasonal lead. Forecast skill is demonstrated, and a real-time seasonal forecast of epidemic SLEV transmission is presented. This study demonstrates how weather and climate forecast skill-verification analyses may be applied to test the predictability of an empiric disease forecast model.

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