Bayesian Biosurveillance of Disease Outbreaks

by   Gregory F. Cooper, et al.

Early, reliable detection of disease outbreaks is a critical problem today. This paper reports an investigation of the use of causal Bayesian networks to model spatio-temporal patterns of a non-contagious disease (respiratory anthrax infection) in a population of people. The number of parameters in such a network can become enormous, if not carefully managed. Also, inference needs to be performed in real time as population data stream in. We describe techniques we have applied to address both the modeling and inference challenges. A key contribution of this paper is the explication of assumptions and techniques that are sufficient to allow the scaling of Bayesian network modeling and inference to millions of nodes for real-time surveillance applications. The results reported here provide a proof-of-concept that Bayesian networks can serve as the foundation of a system that effectively performs Bayesian biosurveillance of disease outbreaks.


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