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Type- and Subtype-Specific Influenza Forecast.

Abstract

Prediction of the growth and decline of infectious disease incidence has advanced considerably in recent years. As these forecasts improve, their public health utility should increase, particularly as interventions are developed that make explicit use of forecast information. It is the task of the research community to increase the content and improve the accuracy of these infectious disease predictions. Presently, operational real-time forecasts of total influenza incidence are produced at the municipal and state level in the United States. These forecasts are generated using ensemble simulations depicting local influenza transmission dynamics, which have been optimized prior to forecast with observations of influenza incidence and data assimilation methods. Here, we explore whether forecasts targeted to predict influenza by type and subtype during 2003-2015 in the United States were more or less accurate than forecasts targeted to predict total influenza incidence. We found that forecasts separated by type/subtype generally produced more accurate predictions and, when summed, produced more accurate predictions of total influenza incidence. These findings indicate that monitoring influenza by type and subtype not only provides more detailed observational content but supports more accurate forecasting. More accurate forecasting can help officials better respond to and plan for current and future influenza activity.

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