Community of Practice Updates

2020 Syndromic Surveillance Symposium

The Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE), in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Syndromic Surveillance Program (NSSP), will host the 2020 Syndromic Surveillance Symposium virtually November 17–19, 2020.

The symposium will provide a forum for the syndromic surveillance community to exchange experiences, best practices, and ideas in a broad range of areas including data sharing, syndrome development, data quality, and analytic methods. Attendees will have opportunities to learn about the latest topics related to syndromic surveillance practice, share their thoughts about NSSP Community of Practice (CoP) activities, and discuss ideas for building syndromic surveillance capacity at state, local, and national levels.

The 2020 Syndromic Surveillance Symposium is open to any person or organization interested in advancing syndromic surveillance. The targeted audience for this event includes epidemiologists, NSSP site administrators, syndromic surveillance coordinators, and Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity (ELC) Health Information System (HIS) cooperative agreement recipients.

Registration is FREE and open now through Monday, November 16, 2020. Please register for the event HERE.external icon

If you have questions about the symposium, please contact the CSTE National Office at

We look forward to (virtually) seeing you mid-November!

Join the New NSSP CoP Slack Workspace

The Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE), which facilitates the NSSP Community of Practice (NSSP CoP), now supports and moderates the NSSP CoP Slack Workspace. This new Slack workspace is a communication tool and collaboration platform for advancing syndromic surveillance practice. Use it to plan projects, accelerate data analyses, and easily share information with peers. Reap the benefits of collectively working with health scientists at CDC, other federal agencies, and with state, territorial, local, and tribal (STLT) public health departments—all using NSSP’s BioSense Platform!

If you need quick access to syndromic surveillance experts and are affiliated with a federal agency or STLT health department as a full-time employee (FTE) or contractor, the NSSP CoP Slack Workspace is designed for YOU. The NSSP CoP Slack Workspace is not designed for public use; however, channels and communications on the site may be subject to public release under a Freedom of Information Act request. To join, please submit your request here.external icon

If you have questions about the NSSP CoP, its highly collaborative user groups, the NSSP CoP Slack Workspace, or syndromic surveillance, please email

Community Highlights

NSSP Community of Practice

  • The October 2020 NSSP CoP monthly call’s trending topic, “What’s Different about Flu this Year? Using Syndromic Surveillance Data during a Pandemic to Monitor CLI and ILI”external icon focused on concurrent influenza-like illness (ILI) and COVID-like illness (CLI) surveillance. Panelists from federal, state, and local levels shared efforts for differentiating between ILI and CLI this upcoming flu season. Zach Faigen (NC) described North Carolina’s CLI and ILI surveillance efforts, provided CLI and ILI definitions, and described differences in observed trends. Jeff Sanders (MN) described how Minnesota distinguishes between CLI and ILI by comparing symptoms of CLI and any respiratory illness (ARI)/ILI. He also shared frequency of symptoms for COVID-19 and flu-negative ARI and flu-positive ARI. Participants also heard from Noreen Ajayi (CDC/National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases [NCIRD]) on CDC’s preparation for the upcoming flu season. Ajayi shared NCIRD’s efforts to increase coverage and couple their data with virologic data.
  • Loren Rodgers (NSSP lead) updated call participants about the request to include NSSP data in the public facing COVID Data Tracker, scheduled to go live in November. Rodgers and the NSSP team want to ensure the suppression is right and are reviewing the information before its release. COVID Data Tracker will share the percentage of visits due to CLI or ILI for core-based statistical areas (CBSA), which are generally larger than counties. Rodgers then described how NSSP is evaluating advanced cloud services from Amazon and Microsoft. The intent is to improve scalability of ESSENCE, reduce costs, and enhance responsiveness when handling large datasets and complex queries. On October 1, 2020, NSSP emailed site administrators requesting permission to use site data for this evaluation. Please email if interested in participating or to opt out.
  • Check out previous call recordings and other resources here.external icon

NSSP CoP Core Committee

  • The NSSP CoP Core Committee continues to meet monthly to discuss ongoing projects, priorities, and needs of the syndromic surveillance community.
  • As a reminder, if you have a topic for Core Committee consideration, please reach out to the appropriate core committee member:
    • Krystal Collier (AZ)—Core Committee Chair
    • Yushiuan Chen (Tri-County, CO)—Core Committee Deputy Chair
    • MisChele Vickers (AL)—Data Quality Subcommittee Co-Chair
    • Diksha Ramnani (WI)—Data Quality Subcommittee Co-Chair
    • Teresa Hamby (NJ)—Knowledge Repository Curation Subcommittee Chair
    • Bill Smith (Maricopa Co., AZ)—Syndromic Surveillance and Public Health Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Co-Chair
    • Fatema Mamou (MI)—Syndromic Surveillance and Public Health Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Co-Chair
    • Rasneet Kumar (Tarrant Co., TX)—Syndrome Definition Subcommittee Co-Chair
    • Rosa Ergas (MA)— Syndrome Definition Subcommittee Co-Chair
    • Natasha Close (WA)—Technical Subcommittee Co-Chair
    • Caleb Wiedeman (TN)— Technical Subcommittee Co-Chair

Data Quality (DQ) Subcommittee

CSTE Final Report

The NSSP CoP contributed to the development of this report. The Data Quality Subcommittee convened a workgroup comprising 27 members. The workgroup conducted literature reviews, assessed findings, developed recommendations, and collaborated to build consensus.

Knowledge Repository (KR) Curation Subcommittee

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Syndrome Definition (SD) Subcommittee

  • During the October 2020 SD call, Co-Chairs Rosa Ergas (MA) and Rasneet Kumar (Tarrant County, TX), revisited the topic of developing a mental health-related syndrome. Zach Stein (ICF) provided updates to recently added chief complaint (CC) and discharge diagnosis (DD) categories, which include version 2 updates to three CC and DD categories related to COVID-like illness.
  • Check out previous call recordings and other resources from the SD Subcommittee here.external icon

Syndromic Surveillance and Public Health Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Recovery (SPHERR) Subcommittee

  • Fatema Mamou (MI) is the new NSSP CoP SPHERR co-chair and will serve alongside Bill Smith (Maricopa, AZ).
  • During the October 2020 SPHERR call, members discussed COVID-like illness (ILI) and influenza-like illness (ILI) interaction and the different approaches that health jurisdictions were taking to account for winter months; Zach Faigen (NC) shared CLI and ILI trends in North Carolina. The group plans to revisit this topic again in December and January. They also discussed the integration of telemedicine with syndromic surveillance data and how health jurisdictions account for missing data.
  • Check out previous call recordings and other resources from the SPHERR Subcommittee hereexternal icon.

Technical Subcommittee

  • Check out previous call recordings and other resources from the Technical Subcommittee here.external icon
Page last reviewed: November 12, 2020