Use Internet search data to accurately track state level influenza epidemics

For epidemics control and prevention, timely insights of potential hot spots are invaluable. Alternative to traditional epidemic surveillance, which often lags behind real time by weeks, big data from the Internet provide important information of the current epidemic trends. Here we present a methodology, ARGOX (Augmented Regression with GOogle data CROSS space), for accurate real-time tracking of state-level influenza epidemics in the United States. ARGOX combines Internet search data at the national, regional and state levels with traditional influenza surveillance data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and accounts for both the spatial correlation structure of state-level influenza activities and the evolution of people´s Internet search pattern. ARGOX achieves on average 28% error reduction over the best alternative for real-time state-level influenza estimation for 2014 to 2020. ARGOX is robust and reliable and can be potentially applied to track county- and city-level influenza activity and other infectious diseases.