An ecological and digital epidemiology analysis on the role of human behavior on the 2014 Chikungunya outbreak in Martinique

Sci Rep. 2017 Jul 20;7(1):5967. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-05957-y.


Understanding the spatio-temporal dynamics of endemic infections is of critical importance for a deeper understanding of pathogen transmission, and for the design of more efficient public health strategies. However, very few studies in this domain have focused on emerging infections, generating a gap of knowledge that hampers epidemiological response planning. Here, we analyze the case of a Chikungunya outbreak that occurred in Martinique in 2014. Using time series estimates from a network of sentinel practitioners covering the entire island, we first analyze the spatio-temporal dynamics and show that the largest city has served as the epicenter of this epidemic. We further show that the epidemic spread from there through two different propagation waves moving northwards and southwards, probably by individuals moving along the road network. We then develop a mathematical model to explore the drivers of the temporal dynamics of this mosquito-borne virus. Finally, we show that human behavior, inferred by a textual analysis of messages published on the social network Twitter, is required to explain the epidemiological dynamics over time. Overall, our results suggest that human behavior has been a key component of the outbreak propagation, and we argue that such results can lead to more efficient public health strategies specifically targeting the propagation process.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Behavior*
  • Chikungunya Fever / epidemiology*
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Humans
  • Martinique / epidemiology
  • Models, Biological
  • Spatio-Temporal Analysis