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Web-Based Surveillance Systems for Human, Animal, and Plant Diseases

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  • Authors: Lawrence C. Madoff1, Annie Li2
  • Editors: Ronald M. Atlas3, Stanley Maloy4
  • VIEW AFFILIATIONS HIDE AFFILIATIONS
    Affiliations: 1: ProMED-mail, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 2: City University of Hong Kong, Department of Biology and Chemistry, Kowloon Tong, Kowloon, Hong Kong; 3: University of Louisville, Louisville, KY; 4: San Diego State University, San Diego, CA
  • Source: microbiolspec January 2014 vol. 2 no. 1 doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.OH-0015-2012
  • Received 09 December 2012 Accepted 09 December 2012 Published 17 January 2014
  • Lawrence C. Madoff, lmadoff@promedmail.org
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  • Abstract:

    The emergence of infectious diseases, caused by novel pathogens or the spread of existing ones to new populations and regions, represents a continuous threat to humans and other species. The early detection of emerging human, animal, and plant diseases is critical to preventing the spread of infection and protecting the health of our species and environment. Today, more than 75% of emerging infectious diseases are estimated to be zoonotic and capable of crossing species barriers and diminishing food supplies. Traditionally, surveillance of diseases has relied on a hierarchy of health professionals that can be costly to build and maintain, leading to a delay or interruption in reporting. However, Internet-based surveillance systems bring another dimension to epidemiology by utilizing technology to collect, organize, and disseminate information in a more timely manner. Partially and fully automated systems allow for earlier detection of disease outbreaks by searching for information from both formal sources (e.g., World Health Organization and government ministry reports) and informal sources (e.g., blogs, online media sources, and social networks). Web-based applications display disparate information online or disperse it through e-mail to subscribers or the general public. Web-based early warning systems, such as ProMED-mail, the Global Public Health Intelligence Network (GPHIN), and Health Map, have been able to recognize emerging infectious diseases earlier than traditional surveillance systems. These systems, which are continuing to evolve, are now widely utilized by individuals, humanitarian organizations, and government health ministries.

  • Citation: Madoff L, Li A. 2014. Web-Based Surveillance Systems for Human, Animal, and Plant Diseases. Microbiol Spectrum 2(1):OH-0015-2012. doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.OH-0015-2012.

Key Concept Ranking

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome
0.53013474
Human Infectious Diseases
0.46998408
Infectious Diseases
0.44554022
0.53013474

References

1. Taylor LH, Latham SM, Woolhouse ME. 2001. Risk factors for human disease emergence. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 356:983–989. [PubMed][CrossRef]
2. Keusch GT, Pappaioanou M, Gonzalez MC, Scott KA, Tsai P (ed). 2009. Achieving an effective zoonotic disease surveillance system, p 115–164. In Global Surveillance and Response to Emerging Zoonotic Diseases. National Academies Press, Washington, DC.
3. Heymann DL, Rodier GR. 1998. Global surveillance of communicable diseases. Emerg Infect Dis 4:362–365. [PubMed][CrossRef]
4. Brownstein JS, Freifeld CC, Madoff LC. 2009. Digital disease detection—harnessing the Web for public health surveillance. N Engl J Med 360:2153–2155, 2157. [PubMed][CrossRef]
5. Wilson K, Brownstein JS. 2009. Early detection of disease outbreaks using the Internet. CMAJ 180:829–831. [PubMed][CrossRef]
6. Madoff LC. 2004. ProMED-mail: an early warning system for emerging diseases. Clin Infect Dis 39:227–232. [PubMed][CrossRef]
7. Mykhalovskiy E, Weir L. 2006. The Global Public Health Intelligence Network and early warning outbreak detection: a Canadian contribution to global public health. Can J Public Health 97:42–44. [PubMed]
8. Heymann DL, Rodier G. 2004. Global surveillance, national surveillance, and SARS. Emerg Infect Dis 10:173–175. [PubMed][CrossRef]
9. Heymann DL, Rodier GR, WHO Operational Support Team to the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network. 2001. Hot spots in a wired world: WHO surveillance of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases. Lancet Infect Dis 1:345–355. [PubMed][CrossRef]
10. Jones KE, Patel NG, Levy MA, Storeygard A, Balk D, Gittleman JL, Daszak P. 2008. Global trends in emerging infectious diseases. Nature 451:990–993. [PubMed][CrossRef]
11. Wilson K, von Tigerstrom B, McDougall C. 2008. Protecting global health security through the International Health Regulations: requirements and challenges. CMAJ 179:44–48. [PubMed][CrossRef]
12. Mandl KD, Overhage JM, Wagner MM, Lober WB, Sebastiani P, Mostashari F, Pavlin JA, Gesteland PH, Treadwell T, Koski E, Hutwagner L, Buckeridge DL, Aller RD, Grannis S. 2004. Implementing syndromic surveillance: a practical guide informed by the early experience. J Am Med Inform Assoc 11:141–150. [PubMed][CrossRef]
13. Ginsberg J, Mohebbi MH, Patel RS, Brammer L, Smolinski MS, Brilliant L. 2009. Detecting influenza epidemics using search engine query data. Nature 457:1012–1014. [PubMed][CrossRef]
14. Polgreen PM, Chen Y, Pennock DM, Nelson FD. 2008. Using Internet searches for influenza surveillance. Clin Infect Dis 47:1443–1448. [PubMed][CrossRef]
15. Signorini A, Segre AM, Polgreen PM. 2011. The use of Twitter to track levels of disease activity and public concern in the U.S. during the influenza A H1N1 pandemic. PLoS One 6:e19467. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0019467. [PubMed][CrossRef]
16. Chretien JP, Burkom HS, Sedyaningsih ER, Larasati RP, Lescano AG, Mundaca CC, Blazes DL, Munayco CV, Coberly JS, Ashar RJ, Lewis SH. 2008. Syndromic surveillance: adapting innovations to developing settings. PLoS Med 5:e72. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050072. [PubMed][CrossRef]
17. Brownstein JS, Cassa CA, Mandl KD. 2006. No place to hide—reverse identification of patients from published maps. N Engl J Med 355:1741–1742. [PubMed][CrossRef]
18. Lebiebicioglu H. 2012. Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli epidemic: the sensitive role of the media in the handling of epidemics. Clin Infect Dis 54:450–451. [PubMed][CrossRef]
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2014-01-17
2017-08-17

Abstract:

The emergence of infectious diseases, caused by novel pathogens or the spread of existing ones to new populations and regions, represents a continuous threat to humans and other species. The early detection of emerging human, animal, and plant diseases is critical to preventing the spread of infection and protecting the health of our species and environment. Today, more than 75% of emerging infectious diseases are estimated to be zoonotic and capable of crossing species barriers and diminishing food supplies. Traditionally, surveillance of diseases has relied on a hierarchy of health professionals that can be costly to build and maintain, leading to a delay or interruption in reporting. However, Internet-based surveillance systems bring another dimension to epidemiology by utilizing technology to collect, organize, and disseminate information in a more timely manner. Partially and fully automated systems allow for earlier detection of disease outbreaks by searching for information from both formal sources (e.g., World Health Organization and government ministry reports) and informal sources (e.g., blogs, online media sources, and social networks). Web-based applications display disparate information online or disperse it through e-mail to subscribers or the general public. Web-based early warning systems, such as ProMED-mail, the Global Public Health Intelligence Network (GPHIN), and Health Map, have been able to recognize emerging infectious diseases earlier than traditional surveillance systems. These systems, which are continuing to evolve, are now widely utilized by individuals, humanitarian organizations, and government health ministries.

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Figures

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Figure 1

Website of ProMED-mail (http://www.promedmail.org/). ProMED is a service of the ISID and provides reports, moderated by a panel of experts, on outbreaks of emerging diseases in humans, animals, and plants. doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.OH-0015-2012.f1

Source: microbiolspec January 2014 vol. 2 no. 1 doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.OH-0015-2012
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Figure 2

Website of HealthMap (http://www.healthmap.org/en/), based at Children's Hospital Boston, which shows, on an interactive map, infectious disease outbreaks automatically derived from numerous sources and curated by a human team. doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.OH-0015-2012.f2

Source: microbiolspec January 2014 vol. 2 no. 1 doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.OH-0015-2012
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Figure 3

The EMPRES-i website (http://empres-i.fao.org), maintained by the FAO of the United Nations, which reports animal and zoonotic disease outbreaks. doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.OH-0015-2012.f3

Source: microbiolspec January 2014 vol. 2 no. 1 doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.OH-0015-2012
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Tables

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TABLE 1

Formal versus informal information sources

Source: microbiolspec January 2014 vol. 2 no. 1 doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.OH-0015-2012
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TABLE 2

Examples of digital surveillance systems

Source: microbiolspec January 2014 vol. 2 no. 1 doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.OH-0015-2012

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