A survey of usage protocols of syndromic surveillance systems by state public health departments in the United States.

  • Uscher-Pines L
  • Farrell C
  • Cattani J
 et al. 
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OBJECTIVE: To broadly describe current syndromic surveillance systems in use throughout the United States and to provide basic descriptive information on responses to syndromic system signals. METHODS: Cross-sectional survey (telephone and e-mail) of state epidemiologists in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. RESULTS: Forty-one states participated in the survey for a response rate of 80 percent. Thirty-three states (80%) had at least one syndromic surveillance system in addition to BioSense operating within the state. Every state with an urban area at highest risk of a terrorist attack reported monitoring syndromic surveillance data, and a state's overall preparedness level was not related to the presence (or lack) of operational syndromic surveillance systems. The most common syndromic surveillance systems included BioSense (n = 20, 61%) and RODS (n = 13, 39%). Seventy-six percent of states with syndromic surveillance initiated investigations at the state level, 64 percent at the county level, and 45 percent at both the state and county levels. CONCLUSIONS: The majority of states reported using syndromic surveillance systems, with greatest penetration in those at highest risk for a terrorist attack. Most states used multiple systems and had varied methods (central and local) of responding to alerts, indicating the need for detailed response protocols.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Data Collection
  • Humans
  • Population Surveillance
  • Population Surveillance: methods
  • Public Health
  • State Government
  • Syndrome
  • Terrorism
  • United States

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  • Lori Uscher-Pines

  • Corey L Farrell

  • Jacqueline Cattani

  • Yu-Hsiang Hsieh

  • Michael D Moskal

  • Steven M Babin

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