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Big Data Cogn. Comput. 2018, 2(1), 2; https://doi.org/10.3390/bdcc2010002

The Internet and the Anti-Vaccine Movement: Tracking the 2017 EU Measles Outbreak

Department of Computing Science and Mathematics, Faculty of Natural Sciences, University of Stirling, Stirling, Scotland FK9 4LA, UK
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Received: 26 November 2017 / Revised: 11 January 2018 / Accepted: 13 January 2018 / Published: 16 January 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health Assessment in the Big Data Era)
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Abstract

In the Internet Era of information overload, how does the individual filter and process available knowledge? In addressing this question, this paper examines the behavioral changes in the online interest in terms related to Measles and the Anti-Vaccine Movement from 2004 to 2017, in order to identify any relationships between the decrease in immunization percentages, the Anti-Vaccine Movement, and the increased reported Measles cases. The results show that statistically significant positive correlations exist between monthly Measles cases and Google queries in the respective translated terms in most EU28 countries from January 2011 to August 2017. Furthermore, a strong negative correlation (p < 0.01) exists between the online interest in the term ‘Anti Vaccine’ and the Worldwide immunization percentages from 2004 to 2016. The latter could be supportive of previous work suggesting that conspiracist ideation is related to the rejection of scientific propositions. As Measles require the highest immunization percentage out of the vaccine preventable diseases, the 2017 EU outbreak could be the first of several other diseases’ outbreaks or epidemics in the near future should the immunization percentages continue to decrease. Big Data Analytics in general and the analysis of Google queries in specific have been shown to be valuable in addressing health related topics up to this point. Therefore, analyzing the variations and patterns of available online information could assist health officials with the assessment of reported cases, as well as taking the required preventive actions. View Full-Text
Keywords: anti-vaccine; anti-vaccine movement; Google Trends; Internet; measles; MMR; online behavior; vaccination anti-vaccine; anti-vaccine movement; Google Trends; Internet; measles; MMR; online behavior; vaccination
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Mavragani, A.; Ochoa, G. The Internet and the Anti-Vaccine Movement: Tracking the 2017 EU Measles Outbreak. Big Data Cogn. Comput. 2018, 2, 2.

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