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SARS Surveillance Project — Internet-Enabled Multiregion Surveillance for Rapidly Emerging Disease

Seth L. Foldy, E. Barthell, J. Silva, P. Biedrzycki, D. Howe, M. Erme, B. Keaton, C. Hamilton, L. Brewer, G. Miller, E. Eby, R. Coles, K. Pemble and C. Felton
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
Vol. 53, Supplement: Syndromic Surveillance, Reports from a National Conference, 2003 (2004), pp. 215-220
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23315716
Page Count: 6
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SARS Surveillance Project — Internet-Enabled Multiregion Surveillance for Rapidly Emerging Disease
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Abstract

Introduction: On March 15, 2003, CDC requested health-care and public health agencies to conduct surveillance for severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). The SARS Surveillance Project (SARS-SP) was established to rapidly implement multiregional SARS surveillance in emergency departments (EDs) by using existing Internet-based tools. Objectives: The objectives of SARS-SP were to 1) disseminate and update SARS screening forms for ED triage, 2) establish surveillance for SARS syndrome elements by using Regional Emergency Medicine Internet (REMI), 3) expand surveillance to multiple regions, and 4) evaluate the usefulness of Internet tools for agile surveillance during a rapidly emerging global epidemic. Methods: SARS-SP developed, distributed, and updated an Internet-based triage form to identify patients for infection control and public health reporting. EDs then were invited to report visit frequencies with various SARS syndrome elements to local public health authorities by using the REMI Internet application (first in one metropolitan area, and later in four). After pilot-testing in one metropolitan area, the surveillance system was implemented in three others. Results: Active syndromic surveillance was established by health departments in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Denver, Colorado; Akron, Ohio; and Fort Worth, Texas. A total of 27 EDs reported syndrome frequencies from >146,000 patient encounters. Conclusions: ED and public health partners reported being satisfied with the system, confirming the usefulness of Internet tools in the rapid establishment of multiregion syndromic surveillance during an emerging global epidemic.

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