The ALERT Algorithm: How to Simply Define a Period of Elevated Disease Incidence


Despite the number of infections, hospitalizations, and deaths from influenza each year, developing the ability to predict the timing of these outbreaks has remained elusive. Public health practitioners have lacked a reliable, easy-to-implement method for predicting the onset of a period of elevated influenza incidence in a community. We (a team of statisticians, epidemiologists, and clinicians) have developed a model to help public health practitioners develop simple, adaptable, data-driven rules to define a period of increased disease incidence in a given location. We call this method the Above Local Elevated Respiratory illness Threshold (ALERT) algorithm. The ALERT algorithm is a simple method that defines a period of elevated disease incidence in a community or hospital that systematically collects surveillance data on a particular disease.


Our objective was to develop a simple, easy-to-use algorithm to predict the onset of a period of elevated influenza incidence in a community using surveillance data.

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Original Publication Year: 
Event/Publication Date: 
September, 2013

May 02, 2019

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