Redefining syndromic surveillance

Rebecca Katz, Larissa S May, Julia Baker, Elisa Test

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

24 Scopus citations

Abstract

With growing concerns about international spread of disease and expanding use of early disease detection surveillance methods, the field of syndromic surveillance has received increased attention over the last decade. The purpose of this article is to clarify the various meanings that have been assigned to the term syndromic surveillance and to propose a refined categorization of the characteristics of these systems. Existing literature and conference proceedings were examined on syndromic surveillance from 1998 to 2010, focusing on low- and middle-income settings. Based on the 36 unique definitions of syndromic surveillance found in the literature, five commonly accepted principles of syndromic surveillance systems were identified, as well as two fundamental categories: specific and non-specific disease detection. Ultimately, the proposed categorization of syndromic surveillance distinguishes between systems that focus on detecting defined syndromes or outcomes of interest and those that aim to uncover non-specific trends that suggest an outbreak may be occurring. By providing an accurate and comprehensive picture of this field's capabilities, and differentiating among system types, a unified understanding of the syndromic surveillance field can be developed, encouraging the adoption, investment in, and implementation of these systems in settings that need bolstered surveillance capacity, particularly low- and middle-income countries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-31
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Epidemiology and Global Health
Volume1
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Biosurveillance
  • Disease outbreaks
  • Epidemiology
  • Population surveillance
  • Syndrome
  • Syndromic surveillance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology

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