PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2022 Jun 9;16(6):e0010441. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0010441. eCollection 2022 Jun.
Chikungunya, a mosquito-borne disease, is a growing threat in Brazil, where over 640,000 cases have been reported since 2017. However, there are often long delays between diagnoses of chikungunya cases and their entry in the national monitoring system, leaving policymakers without the up-to-date case count statistics they need. In contrast, weekly data on Google searches for chikungunya is available with no delay. Here, we analyse whether Google search data can help improve rapid estimates of chikungunya case counts in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. We build on a Bayesian approach suitable for data that is subject to long and varied delays, and find that including Google search data reduces both model error and uncertainty. These improvements are largest during epidemics, which are particularly important periods for policymakers. Including Google search data in chikungunya surveillance systems may therefore help policymakers respond to future epidemics more quickly.