Surveillance Strategy Report — Modernizing Notifiable Diseases Reporting

Modernizing Notifiable Diseases

Better Data, Better Decisions

Local health officials compile information from healthcare providers, laboratories, and other reports. Local and state health departments use the data to identify and control disease outbreaks. They ensure people are effectively tested, treated, and provided with the care they need to stay healthy. States submit data to CDC, where the information is used to guide public health policy and prevention strategies that keep people healthy and defend America from health threats.

Notifiable Disease Surveillance

Health officials monitor diseases and conditions that can cause serious illness or a significant public health concern. States send data on these notifiable diseases or conditions to CDC. Since 1879, health officials have monitored diseases such as cholera and smallpox. Today, public health tracks infectious diseases like Zika, foodborne outbreaks such as E. coli, and noninfectious conditions such as lead poisoning.

“The whole goal of what we do in public health is to make these nonissues. We don’t want to have an outbreak.”

— Sarah Park, MD
State Epidemiologist and Chief of the Disease Outbreak Control Division, state of Hawaii

Why It Matters

Notifiable disease data are critical to:

blue and white globe

Detect disease when and where it happens 

blue microorganisms

Stop disease before it spreads

blue cartoon of a microscope

Study disease to strengthen the science

Icon of a Blue First Aid Kit

Improve how we prevent and control disease

blue cartoon of three figures

Keep people healthy

Putting Data to Work: Numbers Tell the Story

The National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (NNDSS) relies on the monitoring and disease control activities performed by local and state public health departments across the country. A modernization initiative is making it faster and easier for state health departments to send data to CDC, and CDC is improving how it delivers these data to our disease programs.

Developing a more flexible, adaptive, and timely data system for notifiable diseases is an important part of CDC’s strategic approach to surveillance



Modernized systems will make it possible for public health to use one data standard to exchange disease monitoring data


CDC and public health will be able to understand disease trends and emerging health events more quickly
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Data that the health department receives from multiple sources, such as the clinic and the laboratory, can be delivered to CDC in one message


Richer, more complete data drive public health action

Moving the Dial: Modernized System, Improved Timeliness

120 Diseases

More than 120 notifiable diseases and
conditions under surveillance

2.7 Million

Nearly 2.7 million disease events reported through the NNDSS each year

3 Thousand

Disease data sent from 3,000 local health departments to state & territorial health departments to CDC

100 Percent

100% of the American population protected

Lesliann Helmus, MS

Standardized reporting mechanisms save local, state, and federal health organizations time and money while improving health threat detection.

Keywords: notifiable disease, standards, message