A national syndromic surveillance system for England and Wales using calls to a telephone helpline.
ABSTRACT Routine primary care data provide the means to monitor a variety of syndromes which could give early warning of health protection issues. In the United Kingdom, a national syndromic surveillance system, operated jointly by the UK Health Protection Agency (HPA) and NHS Direct (a national telephone health helpline), examines symptoms reported to NHS Direct. The aim of the system is to identify an increase in syndromes indicative of common infections and diseases, or the early stages of illness caused by the deliberate release of a biological or chemical agent. Data relating to 11 key symptoms/syndromes are received electronically from all 22 NHS Direct call centres covering England and Wales and analysed by the HPA on a daily basis. Statistically significant excesses in calls are automatically highlighted and assessed by a multi-disciplinary team. Although the surveillance system has characterised many sudden rises in syndromes reported to NHS Direct, no evidence of a biological or chemical attack has been detected. Benefits of this work, however, are early warning and tracking of rises in community morbidity (e.g. influenza-like illness, heatstroke); providing reassurance during times of perceived high risk (e.g. after the 7 July 2005 London bombs and December 2005 Buncefield oil depot fire); and timely surveillance data for influenza pandemic planning and epidemic modeling.
Article: Internet-based monitoring of influenza-like illness in the general population: experience of five influenza seasons in The Netherlands.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Like in most other countries, influenza surveillance in The Netherlands is based upon influenza-like illness (ILI) consultations reported by sentinel general practitioners (GP). In addition, an internet-based monitoring of ILI in the general population started in 2003/2004 (Great Influenza Survey (GIS)). We compared GIS results over 5 influenza seasons with results from the GP system. Weekly ILI incidence from GIS correlated well with ILI incidence from the GP system the same week and even better 1 week later. This suggests that GIS is useful for early detection of trends in influenza activity. However, two important vulnerable groups, children and the elderly, are clearly underrepresented in the GIS. Furthermore, virological confirmation is lacking in the GIS. So, GIS can be a useful addition to the GP system, especially when representativeness can be improved and when participation remains at the current high level.Vaccine 10/2009; 27(45):6353-7. · 3.77 Impact Factor
Article: Effective detection of the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic in U.S. Veterans Affairs medical centers using a national electronic biosurveillance system.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: The 2008-09 influenza season was the time in which the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) utilized an electronic biosurveillance system for tracking and monitoring of influenza trends. The system, known as ESSENCE or Electronic Surveillance System for the Early Notification of Community-based Epidemics, was monitored for the influenza season as well as for a rise in influenza cases at the start of the H1N1 2009 influenza pandemic. We also describe trends noted in influenza-like illness (ILI) outpatient encounter data in VA medical centers during the 2008-09 influenza season, before and after the recognition of pandemic H1N1 2009 influenza virus. We determined prevalence of ILI coded visits using VA's ESSENCE for 2008-09 seasonal influenza (Sept. 28, 2008-April 25, 2009 corresponding to CDC 2008-2009 flu season weeks 40-16) and the early period of pandemic H1N1 2009 (April 26, 2009-July 31, 2009 corresponding to CDC 2008-2009 flu season weeks 17-30). Differences in diagnostic ICD-9-CM code frequencies were analyzed using Chi-square and odds ratios. There were 649,574 ILI encounters captured representing 633,893 patients. The prevalence of VA ILI visits mirrored the CDC's Outpatient ILI Surveillance Network (ILINet) data with peaks in late December, early February, and late April/early May, mirroring the ILINet data; however, the peaks seen in the VA were smaller. Of 31 ILI codes, 6 decreased and 11 increased significantly during the early period of pandemic H1N1 2009. The ILI codes that significantly increased were more likely to be symptom codes. Although influenza with respiratory manifestation (487.1) was the most common code used among 150 confirmed pandemic H1N1 2009 cases, overall it significantly decreased since the start of the pandemic. VA ESSENCE effectively detected and tracked changing ILI trends during pandemic H1N1 2009 and represents an important temporal alerting system for monitoring health events in VA facilities.PLoS ONE 01/2010; 5(3):e9533. · 4.09 Impact Factor
Article: Surveillance of summer mortality and preparedness to reduce the health impact of heat waves in Italy.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Since 2004, the Italian Department for Civil Protection and the Ministry of Health have implemented a national program for the prevention of heat-health effects during summer, which to-date includes 34 major cities and 93% of the residents aged 65 years and over. The Italian program represents an important example of an integrated approach to prevent the impact of heat on health, comprising Heat Health Watch Warning Systems, a mortality surveillance system and prevention activities targeted to susceptible subgroups. City-specific warning systems are based on the relationship between temperature and mortality and serve as basis for the modulation of prevention measures. Local prevention activities, based on the guidelines defined by the Ministry of Health, are constructed around the infrastructures and services available. A key component of the prevention program is the identification of susceptible individuals and the active surveillance by General Practitioners, medical personnel and social workers. The mortality surveillance system enables the timely estimation of the impact of heat, and heat waves, on mortality during summer as well as to the evaluation of warning systems and prevention programs. Considering future predictions of climate change, the implementation of effective prevention programs, targeted to high risk subjects, become a priority in the public health agenda.International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 05/2010; 7(5):2256-73. · 1.61 Impact Factor