Estimating cholera incidence with cross-sectional serology

Andrew S. Azman, Justin Lessler, Francisco J. Luquero, Taufiqur Rahman Bhuiyan, Ashraful Islam Khan, Fahima Chowdhury, Alamgir Kabir, Marc Gurwith, Ana A. Weil, Jason B. Harris, Stephen B. Calderwood, Edward T. Ryan, Firdausi Qadri, Daniel T. Leung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The development of new approaches to cholera control relies on an accurate understanding of cholera epidemiology. However, most information on cholera incidence lacks laboratory confirmation and instead relies on surveillance systems reporting medically attended acute watery diarrhea. If recent infections could be identified using serological markers, cross-sectional serosurveys would offer an alternative approach to measuring incidence. Here, we used 1569 serologic samples from a cohort of cholera cases and their uninfected contacts in Bangladesh to train machine learning models to identify recent Vibrio cholerae O1 infections. We found that an individual's antibody profile contains information on the timing of V. cholerae O1 infections in the previous year. Our models using six serological markers accurately identified individuals in the Bangladesh cohort infected within the last year [cross-validated area under the curve (AUC), 93.4%; 95% confidence interval (CI), 92.1 to 94.7%], with a marginal performance decrease using models based on two markers (cross-validated AUC, 91.0%; 95% CI, 89.2 to 92.7%). We validated the performance of the two-marker model on data from a cohort of North American volunteers challenged with V. cholerae O1 (AUC range, 88.4 to 98.4%). In simulated serosurveys, our models accurately estimated annual incidence in both endemic and epidemic settings, even with sample sizes as small as 500 and annual incidence as low as two infections per 1000 individuals. Crosssectional serosurveys may be a viable approach to estimating cholera incidence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberaau6242
JournalScience translational medicine
Issue number480
StatePublished - 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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