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Global Disease Detection Operations Center: How the GDD Operations Center functions

Event-based surveillance is the organized and rapid capture of information about events that are a potential risk to public health. This information can be rumors and other ad-hoc reports transmitted through formal channels, i.e., established routine reporting systems; and through informal channels, i.e., media and health workers reports (WHO IHR Monitoring Framework, 2010).  The vast majority of this information is publicly available on the Internet and specific tools are used to find relevant reports.  Event-based surveillance complements traditional indicator-based surveillance that produces credible information but reporting is often delayed. Internet-based media monitoring systems are continuously gathering information and provide early warning of a disease threat.  Event-based surveillance becomes an important surveillance tool and an ideal data gathering opportunity in settings where traditional surveillance system have not been fully developed and in situations where the cause of the disease in not yet known. Finally, traditional surveillance is limited to the health sector, whereas media reports come from reporters who are highly motivated to report disease events or health threats and the information is promptly provided to the public through the Internet. 

Using event-based surveillance, the GDD Operations Center utilizes multiple sources of information about disease events, including publicly available internet-based media reports, scanned for key words in over 50 languages. Both official information sources, e.g., ministries of health or agriculture and WHO, as well as unofficial and unverified reports from media sources are reviewed. The latter are verified through a global network of public health professionals and are reviewed for indications of any emerging threats to public health. To investigate and confirm these outbreaks, the GDD Operations Center relies on a global network of individuals and institutions, including CDC subject matter experts based both in the US and abroad and their international networks, WHO headquarters and regional offices, and other international partners.

As part of its surveillance function, the GDD Operations Center partners with several Institutions and agencies both within the US as well as internationally. Internationally the partners and collaborators include the WHO and several UN agencies; Ministries of Health of the countries that we collaborate with and MoH affiliated Institutions, with whom information exchange occurs bi-directionally to identify and confirm outbreaks, to gather epidemiologic information and to launch joint responses. These collaborations position the GDD Operations Center often to be the first to alert CDC staff (based in Atlanta and internationally) about an international outbreak, disease threat whether biological, chemical or radiological. The GDD Operations Center staff collaborates with the subject matter experts (SMEs), from all across CDC which provides a strong foundation to report the most accurate and timely information about the event and the risk it poses to public health.

The GDD Operations Center participates in the Biosurveillance Indications and Warning Analytic Community (BIWAC), a U.S. government interagency collaboration that exchanges through Web-based portal, information to verify and better understand the earliest signals of a potential threat. . GDD Operations Center also is the CDC liaison with Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN), receiving and responding to requests for international assistance to control disease outbreaks.

  • Page last reviewed: June 6, 2014
  • Page last updated: June 6, 2014 The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
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