Monitoring county-level chlamydia incidence in Texas, 2004 - 2005: application of empirical Bayesian smoothing and Exploratory Spatial Data Analysis (ESDA) methods

Int J Health Geogr. 2009 Feb 26;8:12. doi: 10.1186/1476-072X-8-12.


Background: Chlamydia continues to be the most prevalent disease in the United States. Effective spatial monitoring of chlamydia incidence is important for successful implementation of control and prevention programs. The objective of this study is to apply Bayesian smoothing and exploratory spatial data analysis (ESDA) methods to monitor Texas county-level chlamydia incidence rates by examining spatiotemporal patterns. We used county-level data on chlamydia incidence (for all ages, gender and races) from the National Electronic Telecommunications System for Surveillance (NETSS) for 2004 and 2005.

Results: Bayesian-smoothed chlamydia incidence rates were spatially dependent both in levels and in relative changes. Erath county had significantly (p < 0.05) higher smoothed rates (> 300 cases per 100,000 residents) than its contiguous neighbors (195 or less) in both years. Gaines county experienced the highest relative increase in smoothed rates (173% - 139 to 379). The relative change in smoothed chlamydia rates in Newton county was significantly (p < 0.05) higher than its contiguous neighbors.

Conclusion: Bayesian smoothing and ESDA methods can assist programs in using chlamydia surveillance data to identify outliers, as well as relevant changes in chlamydia incidence in specific geographic units. Secondly, it may also indirectly help in assessing existing differences and changes in chlamydia surveillance systems over time.

MeSH terms

  • Bayes Theorem
  • Chlamydia Infections / epidemiology*
  • Communicable Disease Control*
  • Female
  • Geographic Information Systems*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Population Surveillance*
  • Prevalence
  • Texas / epidemiology