Lessons Learned from an Extreme Heat Event using ACES for Situational Awareness, Ontario, Canada


The Acute Care Enhanced Surveillance (ACES) system provides syndromic surveillance for Ontario's acute care hospitals. ACES receives over 99% of acute care records for emergency department (ED) visits; mean daily volume is 17,500 visits. ACES uses a maximum entropy classifier and generates more than 80 standard syndromes, fifteen of which are actively monitored for aberrational activity and are considered of higher public health relevance, including RESP (respiratory infection, non-croup), ILI (influenza-like illness), TOX (toxicological, chemical/drug exposure), AST (asthma), OPI (opioid exposure), CELL (cellulitis), GASTRO (gastroenteritis), ENVIRO (environmental, heat/cold exposure), MH (mental health), EOH (alcohol intoxication), DERM (rash), and SEP (bacteremia, sepsis). Syndromic surveillance provides a salient source of public health surveillance during extreme heat events; monitoring real-time ED visits can inform local public health authorities of health impacts, provide situation awareness to initiate and/or inform public health response, and help decision-makers allocate resources according to geographic (or demographic) vulnerability. While the use of syndromic surveillance has been well-characterized to monitor infectious disease outbreaks, its use to monitor the heat- health impacts is relatively novel for ACES users, specifically local public health authorities. This report describes the data collected during an extended extreme heat event in Ontario, Canada, to highlight the value of syndromic surveillance during extreme heat events and make recommendations regarding incorporating ACES data into routine workflows.

Objective: To describe the lessons learned for public health decision-makers from an analysis of Acute Care Enhanced Surveillance (ACES) data for the heatwaves experienced in Ontario, Canada in the summer of 2018.

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Original Publication Year: 
Event/Publication Date: 
January, 2019

June 18, 2019

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