A Spatio-Temporal Modeling Framework for Surveillance Data of Multiple Infectious Pathogens With Small Laboratory Validation Sets

Xueying Tang, Yang Yang, Hong-Jie Yu, Qiao-Hong Liao, Nikolay Bliznyuk

Journal of the American Statistical Association

April 30, 2019


Many surveillance systems of infectious diseases are syndrome-based, capturing patients by clinical manifestation. Only a fraction of patients, mostly severe cases, undergo laboratory validation to identify the underlying pathogen. Motivated by the need to understand transmission dynamics and associate risk factors of enteroviruses causing the hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) in China, we developed a Bayesian spatio-temporal modeling framework for surveillance data of infectious diseases with small validation sets. A novel approach was proposed to sample unobserved pathogen-specific patient counts over space and time and was compared to an existing sampling approach. The practical utility of this framework in identifying key parameters was assessed in simulations for a range of realistic sizes of the validation set. Several designs of sampling patients for laboratory validation were compared with and without aggregation of sparse validation data. The methodology was applied to the 2009 HFMD epidemic in southern China to evaluate transmissibility and the effects of climatic conditions for the leading pathogens of the disease, enterovirus 71, and Coxsackie A16. Supplementary materials for this article are available online.