European Journal of Epidemiology

, Volume 14, Issue 5, pp 465–470

A space-time criterion for early detection of epidemics of influenza-like-illness

  • Laurent Toubiana
  • Antoine Flahault

DOI: 10.1023/A:1007481929237

Cite this article as:
Toubiana, L. & Flahault, A. Eur J Epidemiol (1998) 14: 465. doi:10.1023/A:1007481929237


Objectives: To develop a method based on a space-time criterion for early detection of epidemics of influenza-like-illness in France. Methods: Since 1984, the French Communicable Diseases computer Network (FCDN) routinely detects epidemics of influenza-like-illness when the national incidence rate is, for 2 consecutive weeks, above a threshold computed by a periodic regression model. It appears that some areas reported early increases in incidence several weeks before the national epidemic. An optimised space-time criterion allows an early detection of the epidemic periods. Results: Applying this space-time criterion to the last 11 epidemics (from 1986), the sensitivity was 0.82 and the specificity was 0.99. Conclusion: This simple procedure can be used as an additional tool for early detection of an epidemic taking into account the distribution of new cases in space and time.

Alert Epidemiologic method Influenza Population surveillance Sensitivity and specificity 

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laurent Toubiana
    • 1
  • Antoine Flahault
    • 1
  1. 1.INSERM U 444Institut Fédératif Saint-Antoine de Recherche sur la SantéParisFrance

Personalised recommendations