Background: The respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) disease burden is significant, especially in infants and children with an underlying disease. Prophylaxis with palivizumab is recommended for these high-risk groups. Early recognition of a RSV epidemic is important for timely administration of palivizumab. We herein aimed to assess the correlation between national surveillance and Google Trends data pertaining to RSV infections in Japan. Methods: The present, retrospective survey was performed between January 1, 2018 and November 14, 2021 and evaluated the correlation between national surveillance data and Google Trends data. Joinpoint regression was used to identify the points at which changes in trends occurred. Results: A strong correlation was observed every study year (2018 [r = 0.87, p < 0.01], 2019 [r = 0.83, p < 0.01], 2020 [r = 0.83, p < 0.01], and 2021 [r = 0.96, p < 0.01]). The change-points in the Google Trends data indicating the start of the RSV epidemic were observed earlier than by sentinel surveillance in 2018 and 2021 and simultaneously with sentinel surveillance in 2019. No epidemic surge was observed in either the Google Trends or the surveillance data from 2020. Conclusions: Our data suggested that Google Trends has the potential to enable the early identification of RSV epidemics. In countries without a national surveillance system, Google Trends may serve as an alternative early warning system.
- Google Trends
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health