Prediction of Zika-confirmed cases in Brazil and Colombia using Google Trends

Epidemiol Infect. 2018 Oct;146(13):1625-1627. doi: 10.1017/S0950268818002078. Epub 2018 Jul 30.


Zika virus infection in humans has been linked to severe neurological sequels and foetal malformations. The rapidly evolving epidemics and serious complications made the frequent updates of Zika virus mandatory. Web search query has emerged as a low-cost real-time surveillance system to anticipate infectious diseases' outbreaks. Hence, we developed a prediction model that could predict Zika-confirmed cases based on Zika search volume in Google Trends. We extracted weekly confirmed Zika cases of two epidemic countries, Brazil and Colombia. We got the weekly Zika search volume in the two countries from Google Trends. We used standard time-series regression (TSR) to predict the weekly confirmed Zika cases based on the Zika search volume (Zika query). The basis TSR model - using 1-week lag of Zika query and using 1-week lag of Zika cases as a control for autocorrelation - was the best for predicting Zika cases in Brazil and Colombia because it balanced the performance of the model and the advance time in the prediction. Our results showed that we could use Google search queries to predict Zika cases 1 week earlier before the outbreak. These findings are important to help healthcare authorities evaluate the outbreak and take necessary precautions.

Keywords: Brazil; Colombia; Google Trends; Zika; prediction.

MeSH terms

  • Brazil / epidemiology
  • Colombia / epidemiology
  • Disease Outbreaks / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Search Engine / statistics & numerical data*
  • Zika Virus
  • Zika Virus Infection / epidemiology*
  • Zika Virus Infection / psychology