Digital biosurveillance for zoonotic disease detection in kenya

Ravikiran Keshavamurthy, Samuel M. Thumbi, Lauren E. Charles*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Infectious disease surveillance is crucial for early detection and situational awareness of disease outbreaks. Digital biosurveillance monitors large volumes of open-source data to flag potential health threats. This study investigates the potential of digital surveillance in the detection of the top five priority zoonotic diseases in Kenya: Rift Valley fever (RVF), anthrax, rabies, brucellosis, and trypanosomiasis. Open-source disease events reported between August 2016 and October 2020 were collected and key event-specific information was extracted using a newly developed disease event taxonomy. A total of 424 disease reports encompassing 55 unique events belonging to anthrax (43.6%), RVF (34.6%), and rabies (21.8%) were identified. Most events were first reported by news media (78.2%) followed by international health organizations (16.4%). News media reported the events 4.1 (±4.7) days faster than the official reports. There was a positive association between official reporting and RVF events (odds ratio (OR) 195.5, 95% confidence interval (CI); 24.01–4756.43, p <0.001) and a negative association between official reporting and local media coverage of events (OR 0.03, 95% CI; 0.00–0.17, p = 0.030). This study highlights the usefulness of local news in the detection of potentially neglected zoonotic disease events and the importance of digital biosurveillance in resource-limited settings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number783
Number of pages11
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 2021

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • biosurveillance
  • digital surveillance
  • disease taxon-omy
  • Kenya
  • open-source information
  • zoonosis


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