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Emerg Infect Dis. 1997 Jul-Sep;3(3):395-400.

Using laboratory-based surveillance data for prevention: an algorithm for detecting Salmonella outbreaks.

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  • 1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.


By applying cumulative sums (CUSUM), a quality control method commonly used in manufacturing, we constructed a process for detecting unusual clusters among reported laboratory isolates of disease-causing organisms. We developed a computer algorithm based on minimal adjustments to the CUSUM method, which cumulates sums of the differences between frequencies of isolates and their expected means; we used the algorithm to identify outbreaks of Salmonella Enteritidis isolates reported in 1993. By comparing these detected outbreaks with known reported outbreaks, we estimated the sensitivity, specificity, and false-positive rate of the method. Sensitivity by state in which the outbreak was reported was 0%(0/1) to 100%. Specificity was 64% to 100%, and the false-positive rate was 0 to 1.

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