Syndromic Surveillance, An Article for The Encyclopedia for Quantitative Risk Assessment
Fricker, Ronald D. Jr.
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Syndromic surveillance is the regular collection, analysis, and interpretation of real-time and near-real-time indicators of diseases and other outbreaks by public health organizations. Motivated by the threat of bioterrorism, syndromic surveillance systems are being developed and implemented around the world. In a 2004 systematic review of publicly available information, 115 surveillance systems were identified, of which 29 were found that were designed specifically for detecting bioterrorism. In spite of their development, it is unknown how effective these systems will be at quickly detecting a bioterrorism attack. However, under the rubric of electronic biosurveillance, the goal of some of these systems has recently been expanded to include both early event detection and situational awareness, so that the focus is not simply on detection, but also on response and consequence management. Regardless of their utility for detecting bioterrorism, there seems to be consensus that these biosurveillance systems are likely to be useful for detecting and responding to natural disease outbreaks such as seasonal and pandemic flu, and thus they have the potential to significantly advance and modernize the practice of public health surveillance.
in Encyclopedia of Quantitative Risk Analysis and Assessment, Melnick, E., and Everitt, B. (eds.), John Wiley & Sons Ltd., 1743-1752.
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