National Syndromic Surveillance Program (NSSP)
Syndromic surveillance serves as an early warning system for health events. By tracking symptoms of patients in emergency departments—before a diagnosis is confirmed—public health can detect unusual levels of illness to determine whether a response is warranted. Every day, data from more than 4,000 healthcare facilities from 47 states, representing 68% of the nation’s emergency department visits, are sent to the National Syndromic Surveillance Program (NSSP).
NSSP is a collaboration among CDC, federal partners, local and state health departments, and academic and private sector partners who have formed a community of practice. They collect, analyze, and share electronic patient encounter data to detect, characterize, monitor, and respond to events of public health concern. Syndromic data have been used in responses for the opioid overdose epidemic, vaping lung disease outbreak, and Zika virus infection.
Since its inception, the NSSP has grown through collaboration. Combining syndromic surveillance with other program efforts is a good strategy to improve CDC systems and approaches used to gather and connect data. This month’s issue of NSSP Update lists some of the syndrome definitions we’re developing in collaboration with other CDC programs.