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Syndromic Surveillance Data in Action

The NSSP operates under the following definition of syndromic surveillance:

Syndromic surveillance is a process by which public health agencies, hospitals, medical professionals, and other organizations share, analyze, and query health and health-related data in near real-time to make information on the health of communities available to public health and other officials for situational awareness, decision making, and enhanced responses to hazardous events and disease outbreaks.

Syndromic surveillance is distinguished from other public health surveillance systems by the combination of several characteristics, including automated exchange of data originally created for other purposes from clinical electronic health information systems and other sources, the creation of defined syndromes based on words in clinic text notes and diagnostic and treatment information when available, and the automation of data scans to detect and display statistical anomalies and alert users to potential adverse health events.

Syndromic surveillance is an important tool used by federal, state, and local governmental public health agencies to respond quickly to local threats. Response might include further targeted surveillance, public messaging, or public health investigation.

Share Your Program Successes

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funds and supports state, local, and national health authorities that use the BioSense Platform to improve public health situation awareness and syndromic surveillance. CDC wants to know what your program has done to

  • Improve data representativeness;
  • Improve data quality, timeliness, and utility;
  • Strengthen syndromic surveillance practice; or
  • Use syndromic surveillance data for public health action or response.

To submit a success story, complete and submit the NSSP Success Stories template.


More Past Successes

2012 Dengue Detection Project in Florida and Hawaii
  • Data from BioSense were used to enhance surveillance for dengue infection by identifying instances of persons seeking care at VA facilities who showed dengue-like signs and symptoms, such as fever, rash, headache, and unexplained bleeding. Health officials in Florida and Hawaii, the VA, and in CDC’s Dengue Branch were notified when a possible dengue case was identified.
2010 Deepwater Horizon Gulf Oil Spill
  • During the response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, BioSense helped CDC monitor for illnesses, disease outbreaks, or harmful effects of exposure to oil or clean-up chemicals. In coordination with state and local jurisdictions in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas; and the VA and DoD, BioSense worked with the CDC Emergency Operations Center to monitor for 21 conditions, including several mental health conditions. BioSense helped produce daily situation awareness reports for state and local responders in affected states.
2009–2010 H1N1 Flu Pandemic
  • From the beginning of the H1N1 flu pandemic in April 2009, BioSense provided vital information from participating U.S. civilian hospital emergency departments, laboratories, and pharmacies to the CDC Emergency Operations Center, CDC’s Influenza Division, and state and local public health departments. BioSense helped CDC monitor the distribution, severity, and variability of flu-related emergency department visits across the country. This ongoing situation awareness helped CDC then make decisions about immunization recommendations, school and public building closures, and other response steps.