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Biosecur Bioterror. 2008 Jun;6(2):161-70. doi: 10.1089/bsp.2007.0056.

Syndromic surveillance for influenzalike illness.

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Global Public Health Intelligence Network, Public Health Agency of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.


Emergency department data are currently being used by several syndromic surveillance systems to identify outbreaks of natural or man-made illnesses, and preliminary results suggest that regular outbreaks might be detected earlier with such data than with traditional reporting. This article summarizes a retrospective study of 5 influenza seasons in Ottawa,Canada; time-series analysis was used to look for an association between consultation to the emergency department for influenzalike illness and the isolation of influenza virus in the community. The population studied included both children and adults consulting to 3 local hospitals. In 4 seasons, visits to the emergency department involving children younger than 5 years consulting mainly for fever and for respiratory symptoms peaked 1 to 4 weeks before the isolation of influenza virus in the community. If monitored regularly for the presence of key symptoms, pediatric hospitals might be efficient and cost-effective sentinels of influenza and of other infectious diseases.

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