Forecasting the Next Dengue Outbreak

Photo of a mosquito

With more than one-third of the world’s population living in areas at risk for infection, dengue virus is a leading cause of illness and death in the tropics and subtropics.

NOAA is working with the Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites–North Carolina (CICS-NC), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Department of Defense Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center, and other Federal agencies on a new project designed to help predict outbreaks of dengue, a viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes that infects approximately 390 million people across the globe each year.

Because dengue outbreaks, most common in urban or suburban tropical and subtropical climates, are related to environmental conditions, the hope is that climate, weather, and other environmental data can be used to provide advance warning of possible dengue outbreaks. This would allow healthcare providers to prepare for, and better respond to, these outbreaks, significantly reducing the health impacts.

The project, designed to stimulate dengue forecast modeling, is open to anyone interested in participating. While the long-term goal is infectious disease forecasting more broadly, the project initially focuses on two locations. The project’s website provides historical data on both environmental conditions (provided by CICS-NC) and, for the first time made publicly available, actual dengue cases for San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Iquitos, Peru. Participants will have several weeks to develop their forecasting model and then submit forecasts based on these initial “training” datasets. They will then receive a second set of data to use in testing the forecasting power of the models they’ve developed. Teams producing the most promising results will be invited to a meeting at the White House this fall with representatives of the National Science and Technology Council’s Interagency Pandemic Prediction and Forecasting Science and Technology Working Group to discuss their work and potential next steps.

For more information on the dengue forecasting project, see:

Adapted from original CICS-NC press release: Can You Forecast the Next Epidemic?