Whether conducting an outbreak investigation in the field or implementing a statewide prevention program, surveillance is a basic tool for the epidemiologist. Surveillance is the systematic collection, analysis, interpretation, and dissemination of Public Health information.
Syndromic Surveillance is one type of surveillance that attempts to identify outbreaks and other events of public health significance earlier using non-traditional indicators.
Non-traditional indicators used in Syndromic Surveillance
Emergency Department visit information
Nurse Call-in center
Pharmacy sales data
Emergency Medical Services trip report data
Syndromic surveillance uses real-time health related information to detect events of public health significance.
Events of Public Health Significance:
Naturally Occurring Events
Infectious disease outbreaks
Bioterrorism related incidents
Widespread exposures to chemicals (i.e. chlorine gas exposure)
Traditional surveillance often relies on laboratory tests to confirm disease. This may delay a public health response, if it is required. One goal of the syndromic surveillance systems is to quickly identify significant events of Public Health importance. This will allow Public Health to initiate a public health response earlier. The purpose of syndromic surveillance is to portray the ongoing patterns of disease occurrence and disease potential so that investigation, control, and prevention measures can be applied efficiently and effectively.
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