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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 51  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 172-178

Forecasting Japanese encephalitis incidence from historical morbidity patterns: Statistical analysis with 27 years of observation in Assam, India

1 North Eastern Space Applications Centre, Umiam, Meghalaya, India
2 Regional Medical Research Centre-NER (ICMR), Dibrugarh, Assam, India

Correspondence Address:
Siraj A Khan
Scientist 'D', Regional Medical Research Centre-NER (ICMR), Post Box No. 105, Dibrugarh-786 001, Assam
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 25253209

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Background & objectives: Japanese encephalitis (JE) is one of the dreaded mosquito-borne viral diseases mostly prevalent in south Asian countries including India. Early warning of the disease in terms of disease intensity is crucial for taking adequate and appropriate intervention measures. The present study was carried out in Dibrugarh district in the state of Assam located in the northeastern region of India to assess the accuracy of selected forecasting methods based on historical morbidity patterns of JE incidence during the past 22 years (1985-2006). Methods: Four selected forecasting methods, viz. seasonal average (SA), seasonal adjustment with last three observations (SAT), modified method adjusting long-term and cyclic trend (MSAT), and autoregressive integrated moving average (ARIMA) have been employed to assess the accuracy of each of the forecasting methods. The forecasting methods were validated for five consecutive years from 2007-2012 and accuracy of each method has been assessed. Results: The forecasting method utilising seasonal adjustment with long-term and cyclic trend emerged as best forecasting method among the four selected forecasting methods and outperformed the even statistically more advanced ARIMA method. Peak of the disease incidence could effectively be predicted with all the methods, but there are significant variations in magnitude of forecast errors among the selected methods. As expected, variation in forecasts at primary health centre (PHC) level is wide as compared to that of district level forecasts. Interpretation & conclusion: The study showed that adopted forecasting techniques could reasonably forecast the intensity of JE cases at PHC level without considering the external variables. The results indicate that the understanding of long-term and cyclic trend of the disease intensity will improve the accuracy of the forecasts, but there is a need for making the forecast models more robust to explain sudden variation in the disease intensity with detail analysis of parasite and host population dynamics.

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