May 18, 2006

Medication sales and syndromic surveillance, France

Emerging Infectious Diseases
Elisabeta VerguAntoine Flahault


Although syndromic surveillance systems using nonclinical data have been implemented in the United States, the approach has yet to be tested in France. We present the results of the first model based on drug sales that detects the onset of influenza season and forecasts its trend. Using weekly lagged sales of a selected set of medications, we forecast influenzalike illness (ILI) incidence at the national and regional level for 3 epidemic seasons (2000-01, 2001-02, and 2002-03) and validate the model with real-time updating on the fourth (2003-04). For national forecasts 1-3 weeks ahead, the correlation between observed ILI incidence and forecast was 0.85-0.96, an improvement over the current surveillance method in France. Our findings indicate that drug sales are a useful additional tool to syndromic surveillance, a complementary and independent source of information, and a potential improvement for early warning systems for both epidemic and pandemic planning.

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Mentioned in this Paper

Influenza virus vaccine
Disease Outbreaks
Seasonal Variation
Drug Prescriptions
Population Surveillance
Pharmaceutical Preparations
Arbovirus Encephalitis
Drugs, Non-Prescription
Sales - Occupational Activity

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