Ensemble forecast and parameter inference of childhood diarrhea in Chobe District, Botswana

Epidemics. 2020 Mar;30:100372. doi: 10.1016/j.epidem.2019.100372. Epub 2019 Sep 16.


Diarrheal disease is the second largest cause of mortality in children younger than 5, yet our ability to anticipate and prepare for outbreaks remains limited. Here, we develop and test an epidemiological forecast model for childhood diarrheal disease in Chobe District, Botswana. Our prediction system uses a compartmental susceptible-infected-recovered-susceptible (SIRS) model coupled with Bayesian data assimilation to infer relevant epidemiological parameter values and generate retrospective forecasts. Our model inferred two system parameters and accurately simulated weekly observed diarrhea cases from 2007-2017. Accurate retrospective forecasts for diarrhea outbreaks were generated up to six weeks before the predicted peak of the outbreak, and accuracy increased over the progression of the outbreak. Many forecasts generated by our model system were more accurate than predictions made using only historical data trends. Accurate real-time forecasts have the potential to increase local preparedness for coming outbreaks through improved resource allocation and healthcare worker distribution.

Keywords: Bayesian inference; Childhood diarrhea; Dynamic modeling; Forecasting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bayes Theorem
  • Botswana / epidemiology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diarrhea / epidemiology*
  • Diarrhea / immunology
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Forecasting*
  • Humans
  • Immunity
  • Infant
  • Models, Biological*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Seasons