Methods for estimating disease transmission rates: Evaluating the precision of Poisson regression and two novel methods

Carsten Thure Kirkeby, Tariq Hisham Beshara Halasa, Maya Katrin Gussmann, Nils Toft, Kaare Græsbøll

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    Precise estimates of disease transmission rates are critical for epidemiological simulation models. Most often these rates must be estimated from longitudinal field data, which are costly and time-consuming to conduct. Consequently, measures to reduce cost like increased sampling intervals or subsampling of the population are implemented. To assess the impact of such measures we implement two different SIS models to simulate disease transmission: A simple closed population model and a realistic dairy herd including population dynamics. We analyze the accuracy of different methods for estimating the transmission rate. We use data from the two simulation models and vary the sampling intervals and the size of the population sampled. We devise two new methods to determine transmission rate, and compare these to the frequently used Poisson regression method in both epidemic and endemic situations. For most tested scenarios these new methods perform similar or better than Poisson regression, especially in the case of long sampling intervals. We conclude that transmission rate estimates are easily biased, which is important to take into account when using these rates in simulation models.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number9496
    JournalScientific Reports
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


    • Computational models
    • Data processing

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