Using Syndromic Surveillance Data to Aid Public Health Actions in Tennessee


Syndromic surveillance data is typically used for the monitoring of symptom combinations in patient chief complaints (i.e. syndromes) or health indicators within a population to inform public health actions. The Tennessee Department of Health collects emergency department (ED) data from more than 80 hospitals across Tennessee to support statewide situational awareness. Most hospitals in Tennessee provide data within 48 hours of the patient being seen in the emergency department. The timeliness of syndromic surveillance data allow for rapid estimates of impact in emergency department populations. Tennessee has successfully used these data to monitor influenza, heat related illnesses, and emergency department impacts from disaster evacuations. In addition to assessing impact and trends, syndromic surveillance can also provide early warnings for conditions of public health concern and increase the lead time public health has to initiate a response. In Tennessee, routine syndromic surveillance for mumps, hepatitis A, and other conditions has been successfully conducted statewide. Three successes from these surveillance efforts include detecting a clinically diagnosed but unreported case of mumps, early identification of hepatitis A cases during Tennessee's ongoing 2018 hepatitis A outbreak, and the detection of an epidemiologically unlikely clinical diagnosis of mumps associated with an exposure at a recreational center.

Objective: To demonstrate the utility of syndromic surveillance data in aiding public health actions and response across multiple investigations in Tennessee.

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Event/Publication Date: 
January, 2019

June 18, 2019

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