Syndromic surveillance at the Ohio Department of Health detects and tracks health events such as pandemic influenza, bioterrorism, disease outbreaks, seasonal illness, injuries and environmental exposures by monitoring and analyzing the health-seeking behavior of Ohio’s population. Early detection of health events allows health authorities to quickly implement control measures to prevent and reduce morbidity. During a health event, syndromic surveillance can provide answers to questions such as which health jurisdictions have increased disease levels, which facilities are treating patients and whether the event is affecting males, females or a specific age group more than others. This information can be used to target resources to the most affected areas and to keep the public informed of important developments.
EpiCenter: De-identified chief complaint data from participating hospitals is automatically collected and categorized into syndrome categories (for example: respiratory, gastrointestinal, neurologic) in real time. If an unusual pattern is detected in EpiCenter, the system automatically notifies the Ohio Department of Health and the affected local health departments. Epidemiologists then determine if the unusual pattern has public health significance and will follow up with control measures if necessary. Approximately 94 percent of Ohio’s emergency department visits are captured by this system.
National Retail Data Monitor (NRDM): Over-the-counter drug sales information is collected from 1,451 Ohio pharmacies and grocery stores and categorized into product groupings (for example: pediatric cough syrup, adult anti-fever medications, thermometer sales). NRDM data are monitored by state and local epidemiologists for patterns suggesting a health event.
Influenza Sentinel Provider Surveillance Network: The number of patients treated for influenza-like-illness (ILI) are reported by age group via more than 70 health care providers throughout Ohio. Participating providers also submit laboratory specimens to ODH lab for subtyping. Information from this system helps public health determine which influenza strains are currently circulating.
For information on how to become an Influenza Sentinel Provider, please contact the Influenza Surveillance Epidemiologist at 614-995-5599.
Local health departments: Most syndromic surveillance systems are used by local health departments for the detection and tracking of health events. There are almost 270 local health department users of the EpiCenter system.
Hospitals: The EpiCenter system can be accessed by approximately 370 hospital employees, primarily Infection Preventionists. Hospitals use EpiCenter to look for unusual patterns within their hospital emergency departments, and to provide local health departments with additional information during health events.
Ohio Department of Health: There are two syndromic surveillance staff members who use all four systems for event detection and tracking at the state and regional level. The unit also provides epidemiologic and system support for local health department and hospital personnel.