Hot spot detection and spatio-temporal dynamics of dengue in Queensland, Australia
Keywords: Clusters, Dengue, Geographical information systems, Spatiotemporal, Spatial autocorrelation
Abstract. Dengue has been a major public health concern in Australia since it re-emerged in Queensland in 1992–1993. This study explored spatio-temporal distribution and clustering of locally-acquired dengue cases in Queensland State, Australia and identified target areas for effective interventions. A computerised locally-acquired dengue case dataset was collected from Queensland Health for Queensland from 1993 to 2012. Descriptive spatial and temporal analyses were conducted using geographic information system tools and geostatistical techniques. Dengue hot spots were detected using SatScan method. Descriptive spatial analysis showed that a total of 2,398 locally-acquired dengue cases were recorded in central and northern regions of tropical Queensland. A seasonal pattern was observed with most of the cases occurring in autumn. Spatial and temporal variation of dengue cases was observed in the geographic areas affected by dengue over time. Tropical areas are potential high-risk areas for mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue. This study demonstrated that the locally-acquired dengue cases have exhibited a spatial and temporal variation over the past twenty years in tropical Queensland, Australia. There is a clear evidence for the existence of statistically significant clusters of dengue and these clusters varied over time. These findings enabled us to detect and target dengue clusters suggesting that the use of geospatial information can assist the health authority in planning dengue control activities and it would allow for better design and implementation of dengue management programs.