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Leveraging multiple data types to estimate the size of the Zika epidemic in the Americas.

Abstract

Several hundred thousand Zika cases have been reported across the Americas since 2015. Incidence of infection was likely much higher, however, due to a high frequency of asymptomatic infection and other challenges that surveillance systems faced. Using a hierarchical Bayesian model with empirically-informed priors, we leveraged multiple types of Zika case data from 15 countries to estimate subnational reporting probabilities and infection attack rates (IARs). Zika IAR estimates ranged from 0.084 (95% CrI: 0.067-0.096) in Peru to 0.361 (95% CrI: 0.214-0.514) in Ecuador, with significant subnational variability in every country. Totaling infection estimates across these and 33 other countries and territories, our results suggest that 132.3 million (95% CrI: 111.3-170.2 million) people in the Americas had been infected by the end of 2018. These estimates represent the most extensive attempt to determine the size of the Zika epidemic in the Americas, offering a baseline for assessing the risk of future Zika epidemics in this region.

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