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BACKGROUND:There are an increasing number of geo-coded information streams available which could improve public health surveillance accuracy and efficiency when properly integrated. Specifically, for zoonotic diseases, knowledge of spatial and temporal patterns of animal host distribution can be used to raise awareness of human risk and enhance early prediction accuracy of human incidence. METHODS:To this end, we develop a spatiotemporal joint modeling framework to integrate human case data and animal host data to offer a modeling alternative for combining multiple surveillance data streams in a novel way. A case study is provided of spatiotemporal modeling of human tularemia incidence and rodent population data from Finnish health care districts during years 1995-2012. RESULTS:Spatial and temporal information of rodent abundance was shown to be useful in predicting human cases and in improving tularemia risk estimates in 40 and 75% of health care districts, respectively. The human relative risk estimates' standard deviation with rodent's information incorporated are smaller than those from the model that has only human incidence. CONCLUSIONS:These results support the integration of rodent population variables to reduce the uncertainty of tularemia risk estimates. However, more information on several covariates such as environmental, behavioral, and socio-economic factors can be investigated further to deeper understand the zoonotic relationship.

Original publication




Journal article


BMC medical research methodology

Publication Date





Department of Tropical Hygiene, Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Ratchathewi, Bangkok, 10400, Thailand.


Animals, Humans, Rodentia, Tick-Borne Diseases, Tularemia, Zoonoses, Population Surveillance, Incidence, Bayes Theorem, Geography, Algorithms, Models, Theoretical, Finland, Spatio-Temporal Analysis