By Caroline O. Buckee, Andrew J. Tatem, and C. Jessica E. Metcalf.
National policies designed to control infectious diseases should allocate resources for interventions based on regional estimates of disease burden from surveillance systems. For many infectious diseases, however, there is pronounced seasonal variation in incidence. Policy-makers must routinely manage a public health response to these seasonal fluctuations with limited understanding of their underlying causes. Two complementary and poorly described drivers of seasonal disease incidence are the mobility and aggregation of human populations, which spark outbreaks and sustain transmission, respectively, and may both exhibit distinct seasonal variations. Here we highlight the key challenges that seasonal migration creates when monitoring and controlling infectious diseases. We discuss the potential of new data sources in accounting for seasonal population movements in dynamic risk mapping strategies.