Use of big data in the surveillance of veterinary diseases: early detection of tick paralysis in companion animals

Guernier, Vanina, Milinovich, Gabriel J., Bezerra Santos, Marcos Antonio, Haworth, Mark, Coleman, Glen and Magalhaes, Ricardo J. Soares (2016) Use of big data in the surveillance of veterinary diseases: early detection of tick paralysis in companion animals. Parasites & Vectors, 9 303.1-303.10. doi:10.1186/s13071-016-1590-6

Author Guernier, Vanina
Milinovich, Gabriel J.
Bezerra Santos, Marcos Antonio
Haworth, Mark
Coleman, Glen
Magalhaes, Ricardo J. Soares
Title Use of big data in the surveillance of veterinary diseases: early detection of tick paralysis in companion animals
Journal name Parasites & Vectors   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1756-3305
Publication date 2016-05
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1186/s13071-016-1590-6
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 9
Start page 303.1
End page 303.10
Total pages 10
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher BioMed Central
Collection year 2017
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Background: Tick paralysis, resultant from envenomation by the scrub-tick Ixodes holocyclus, is a serious threat for
small companion animals in the eastern coast of Australia. We hypothesise that surveillance systems that are built
on Internet search queries may provide a more timely indication of high-risk periods more effectively than current
Methods: Monthly tick paralysis notifications in dogs and cats across Australia and the states of Queensland (QLD)
and New South Wales (NSW) were retrieved from Disease WatchDog surveillance system for the period 2011–2013.
Internet search terms related to tick paralysis in small companion animals were identified using Google Correlate,
and corresponding search frequency metrics were downloaded from Google Trends. Spearman’s rank correlations
and time series cross correlations were performed to assess which Google search terms lead or are synchronous
with tick paralysis notifications.
Results: Metrics data were available for 24 relevant search terms at national level, 16 for QLD and 18 for NSW, and
they were all significantly correlated with tick paralysis notifications (P < 0.05). Among those terms, 70.8, 56.3 and
50 % showed strong Spearman’s correlations, at national level, for QLD, and for NSW respectively, and cross
correlation analyses identified searches which lead notifications at national or state levels.
Conclusion: This study demonstrates that Internet search metrics can be used to monitor the occurrence of tick
paralysis in companion animals, which would facilitate early detection of high-risk periods for tick paralysis cases. This
study constitutes the first application of the rapidly emerging field of Internet-based surveillance to veterinary science.
Keyword Australia
Companion animals
Digital epidemiology
Dogs and cats
Google Trends
Notified cases
Syndromic surveillance
Tick paralysis
Ixodes-Holocyclus Neumann
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
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