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Lancet Infect Dis. 2001 Dec;1(5):345-53.

Hot spots in a wired world: WHO surveillance of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases.

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World Health Organization, Communicable Disease Programmes, Geneva, Switzerland.


The resurgence of the microbial threat, rooted in several recent trends, has increased the vulnerability of all nations to the risk of infectious diseases, whether newly emerging, well-established, or deliberately caused. Infectious disease intelligence, gleaned through sensitive surveillance, is the best defence. The epidemiological and laboratory techniques needed to detect, investigate, and contain a deliberate outbreak are the same as those used for natural outbreaks. In April 2000, WHO formalised an infrastructure (the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network) for responding to the heightened need for early awareness of outbreaks and preparedness to respond. The Network, which unites 110 existing networks, is supported by several new mechanisms and a computer-driven tool for real time gathering of disease intelligence. The procedure for outbreak alert and response has four phases: systematic detection, outbreak verification, real time alerts, and rapid response. For response, the framework uses different strategies for combating known risks and unexpected events, and for improving both global and national preparedness. New forces at work in an electronically interconnected world are beginning to break down the traditional reluctance of countries to report outbreaks due to fear of the negative impact on trade and tourism. About 65% of the world's first news about infectious disease events now comes from informal sources, including press reports and the internet.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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