Biosurveillance means tracking, recording, and sharing information about illness. The White House-issued National Strategy for Biosurveillance(link is external) defines biosurveillances as “gathering, integrating, interpreting, and communicating essential information that might relate to disease activity and threats to human, animal, or plant health.” This functions as the official federal definition.
Responsibility and jurisdiction
Nationally, tracking new disease activity and developing initiatives in response to them is the National Biosurveillance Integration Center (NBIC)(link is external), housed within the Department of Homeland Security. In Los Angeles, the county health department tracks emerging illnesses and decides when to term them pandemics.
Los Angeles County and disease surveillance
Diseases and conditions that health care providers are mandated to report in Los Angeles County can be found here(link is external).
BioSense 2.0(link is external), maintained by the CDC, is cloud-based aggregation, integration, and analysis of information provided by emergency management departments around the country.
EPICenter LA’s own surveillance initiative
We are building a disease surveillance system at a private high school in Los Angeles. Children and teenagers can be the first warning of emerging illenesses since they, without pre-existing immunity, are often the first to get ill during a pandemic. However there is no standardized system of disease reporting in the United States, in either public or private schools. EPICenter LA is building a model for near real-time reporting via SMS technology, or text messaging, during a bioterror event. Simple coding in to a centralized database will construct a heatmap of spreading illness for rapid response and distribution of needed supplies. We hope to eventually expand the system to all the high schools, public and private, in Los Angeles. We currently have a database of absentee data culled by our partner school’s administration. As the pilot develops, we will employ SMS technology and experiment with other technologies.