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Dargatz, Christiane; Georgescu, Vera and Held, Leonhard (2005): Stochastic modelling of the spatial spread of influenza in Germany. Collaborative Research Center 386, Discussion Paper 450 [PDF, 781kB]


In geographical epidemiology, disease counts are typically available in discrete spatial units and at discrete time-points. For example, surveillance data on infectious diseases usually consists of weekly counts of new infections in pre-defined geographical areas. Similarly, but on a different time-scale, cancer registries typically report yearly incidence or mortality counts in administrative regions. A major methodological challenge lies in building realistic models for space-time interactions on discrete irregular spatial graphs. In this paper, we will discuss an observation-driven approach, where past observed counts in neighbouring areas enter directly as explanatory variables, in contrast to the parameter-driven approach through latent Gaussian Markov random fields (Rue and Held, 2005) with spatio-temporal structure. The main focus will lie on the demonstration of the spread of influenza in Germany, obtained through the design and simulation of a spatial extension of the classical SIR model (Hufnagel et al., 2004).

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