Objectives: Pertussis is a vaccine-preventable disease. Despite this, it remains a major health problem among children in developing countries and in recent years, has re-emerged and has led to considerable outbreaks. Pertussis surveillance is of paramount importance; however, classical monitoring approaches are plagued by some shortcomings, such as considerable time delay and potential underestimation/underreporting of cases. Study design: This study aims at investigating the possibility of using Google Trends (GT) as an instrument for tracking pertussis outbreaks to see if infodemiology and infoveillance approaches could overcome the previously mentioned issues because they are based on real-time monitoring and tracking of web-related activities. Methods: In the present study, GT was mined from inception (01 January 2004) to 31 December 2015 in the different European countries. Pertussis was searched using the 'search topic’ strategy. Pertussis-related GT figures were correlated with the number of pertussis cases and deaths retrieved from the European Centre for Disease prevention and Control database. Results: At the European countries level, correlation between pertussis cases and GT-based search volumes was very large (ranging from 0.94 to 0.97) from 2004 to 2015. When examining each country, however, only a few reached the threshold of statistical significance. Conclusions: GT could be particularly useful in pertussis surveillance and control, provided that the algorithm is better adjusted and refined at the country level.
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© 2018 The Royal Society for Public Health
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