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J Med Internet Res. 2010 Sep 28;12(3):e43. doi: 10.2196/jmir.1323.

Developing a disease outbreak event corpus.

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National Institute of Informatics, Tokyo, Japan.



In recent years, there has been a growth in work on the use of information extraction technologies for tracking disease outbreaks from online news texts, yet publicly available evaluation standards (and associated resources) for this new area of research have been noticeably lacking.


This study seeks to create a "gold standard" data set against which to test how accurately disease outbreak information extraction systems can identify the semantics of disease outbreak events. Additionally, we hope that the provision of an annotation scheme (and associated corpus) to the community will encourage open evaluation in this new and growing application area.


We developed an annotation scheme for identifying infectious disease outbreak events in news texts. An event--in the context of our annotation scheme--consists minimally of geographical (eg, country and province) and disease name information. However, the scheme also allows for the rich encoding of other domain salient concepts (eg, international travel, species, and food contamination).


The work resulted in a 200-document corpus of event-annotated disease outbreak reports that can be used to evaluate the accuracy of event detection algorithms (in this case, for the BioCaster biosurveillance online news information extraction system). In the 200 documents, 394 distinct events were identified (mean 1.97 events per document, range 0-25 events per document). We also provide a download script and graphical user interface (GUI)-based event browsing software to facilitate corpus exploration.


In summary, we present an annotation scheme and corpus that can be used in the evaluation of disease outbreak event extraction algorithms. The annotation scheme and corpus were designed both with the particular evaluation requirements of the BioCaster system in mind as well as the wider need for further evaluation resources in this growing research area.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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