We have now established the 1950s meteorological model of sponsored infectious disease "weather" forecasts that appear in the local newspaper just as weather forecasts do. This is an important step in operational biosurveillance because it promotes social habituation to this kind of information. By "social habituation" we infer the "routinization" of a community to see infectious disease forecasts in a manner that promotes deeper awareness of what is supposed to be normal and routine baseline. An example of this was yesterday's post about probable hMPV transmission in our community.
We observed in Haiti such a process creates an environment of enhanced discourse about perceived "unusual" disease activity. This is important because without a forecast to drive engagement of participants to consider the forecasted "hypothesis" and compare that to what they are seeing, one finds fragmentation and individualism in the medical community. We have seen examples where a physician does not even speak to his partner who is in the same office about unusual infectious disease activity indicative of a non-routine outbreak. In this case, the partner was sending multiple samples of bloody stool to the lab for testing under suspicion of STEC and did not communicate within the office "to be on the lookout".
We find it important to not only share forecasts with healthcare providers but the public as well, which creates a check and balance system- parents ask about forecasted diseases and whether what their child has is the forecasted disease in question or not. ... So if our physicians are not paying attention, many of our families are.