Multi-step prediction for influenza outbreak by an adjusted long short-term memory

Epidemiol Infect. 2018 May;146(7):809-816. doi: 10.1017/S0950268818000705. Epub 2018 Apr 2.


Influenza results in approximately 3-5 million annual cases of severe illness and 250 000-500 000 deaths. We urgently need an accurate multi-step-ahead time-series forecasting model to help hospitals to perform dynamical assignments of beds to influenza patients for the annually varied influenza season, and aid pharmaceutical companies to formulate a flexible plan of manufacturing vaccine for the yearly different influenza vaccine. In this study, we utilised four different multi-step prediction algorithms in the long short-term memory (LSTM). The result showed that implementing multiple single-output prediction in a six-layer LSTM structure achieved the best accuracy. The mean absolute percentage errors from two- to 13-step-ahead prediction for the US influenza-like illness rates were all <15%, averagely 12.930%. To the best of our knowledge, it is the first time that LSTM has been applied and refined to perform multi-step-ahead prediction for influenza outbreaks. Hopefully, this modelling methodology can be applied in other countries and therefore help prevent and control influenza worldwide.

Keywords: Influenza-like illness (ILI); long short-term memory (LSTM); multi-step-ahead time-series prediction.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Forecasting / methods*
  • Humans
  • Influenza, Human / epidemiology*
  • Time Factors
  • United States / epidemiology