Machine learning and deep learning techniques to support clinical diagnosis of arboviral diseases: A systematic review

PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2022 Jan 13;16(1):e0010061. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0010061. Online ahead of print.


Background: Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) primarily affect the poorest populations, often living in remote, rural areas, urban slums or conflict zones. Arboviruses are a significant NTD category spread by mosquitoes. Dengue, Chikungunya, and Zika are three arboviruses that affect a large proportion of the population in Latin and South America. The clinical diagnosis of these arboviral diseases is a difficult task due to the concurrent circulation of several arboviruses which present similar symptoms, inaccurate serologic tests resulting from cross-reaction and co-infection with other arboviruses.

Objective: The goal of this paper is to present evidence on the state of the art of studies investigating the automatic classification of arboviral diseases to support clinical diagnosis based on Machine Learning (ML) and Deep Learning (DL) models.

Method: We carried out a Systematic Literature Review (SLR) in which Google Scholar was searched to identify key papers on the topic. From an initial 963 records (956 from string-based search and seven from a single backward snowballing procedure), only 15 relevant papers were identified.

Results: Results show that current research is focused on the binary classification of Dengue, primarily using tree-based ML algorithms. Only one paper was identified using DL. Five papers presented solutions for multi-class problems, covering Dengue (and its variants) and Chikungunya. No papers were identified that investigated models to differentiate between Dengue, Chikungunya, and Zika.

Conclusions: The use of an efficient clinical decision support system for arboviral diseases can improve the quality of the entire clinical process, thus increasing the accuracy of the diagnosis and the associated treatment. It should help physicians in their decision-making process and, consequently, improve the use of resources and the patient's quality of life.