Flu outbreaks tied to weather forecasting in new model
Vaccination rates are low among at-risk adults in the U.S., research shows
A new system ties together weather forecasting with flu outbreak predictions, giving healthcare providers a better way to prepare.
Columbia University and National Center for Atmospheric Research scientists teamed up to create a forecasting model that they say can predict the peak of a flu outbreak seven weeks before it strikes. They based their prediction model around how wintertime flu epidemics tend to follow extremely dry weather.
It is possible that future flu forecasts would be included in local weather reports, leading listeners to “develop an intuition of what we should do to protect ourselves in response to different forecast outcomes,” says report author Jeffrey Shaman, Ph.D., an assistant professor of Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health. For healthcare providers, that could trigger the stocking of extra vaccines or reinforcing hand hygiene protocols.
The results of the study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Homeland Security, was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.