DEFSI: Deep Learning Based Epidemic Forecasting with Synthetic Information
Influenza-like illness (ILI) is among the most common diseases worldwide. Producing timely, well-informed, and reliable forecasts for ILI is crucial for preparedness and optimal interventions. In this work, we focus on short-term but highresolution forecasting and propose DEFSI (Deep Learning Based Epidemic Forecasting with Synthetic Information), an epidemic forecasting framework that integrates the strengths of artificial neural networks and causal methods. In DEFSI, we build a two-branch neural network structure to take both within-season observations and between-season observations as features. The model is trained on geographically highresolution synthetic data. It enables detailed forecasting when high-resolution surveillance data is not available. Furthermore, the model is provided with better generalizability and physical consistency. Our method achieves comparable/better performance than state-of-the-art methods for short-term ILI forecasting at the state level. For high-resolution forecasting at the county level, DEFSI significantly outperforms the other methods.