The Preparedness Unit's Mission is to improve Georgia's Public Health readiness to detect and respond to sentinel or population health events that may be of public health significance and to increase preparedness through emergency planning initiatives in collaboration with other public health disciplines in local, state and federal jurisdictions, and across the spectrum of emergency response agencies.
The Objectives of the Preparedness Unit are to maintain and expand traditional disease surveillance and syndromic surveillance initiatives to increase public health's infectious disease surveillance capacity and to support public health's response to disease events of public health significance.
Traditional Disease Surveillance
The Preparedness Unit promotes clinician awareness of Notifiable Diseases and the importance of using the State Electronic Notifable Diseases Surveillance System (SendSS) reporting mechanism. In addition, the Preparedness Unit strives to increase clinician awareness of diseases that are immediately notifiable to public health, and coordinates planning efforts with public health disciplines and agencies to ensure that surveillance mechanisms are in place to detect, control and contain naturally occurring notifiable diseases or those resulting from a bioterrorism attack. The Preparedness Unit, along with all the Units in the Acute Disease Epidemiology section also coordinate the appropriate specimen testing of suspicious organisms with the Laboratory Response Network (LRN) http://www.bt.cdc.gov/lrn/.
- The following diseases are immediately notifiable and may be naturally occurring or agents of bioterrorism, links to Georgia's ADES case report forms are provided, as appropriate:
- Brucellosis, naturally occurring or as a result of bioterrorism
- Plague, naturally occurring or as a result of bioterrorism
- Q Fever, naturally occurring or as a result of bioterrorism
- Tularemia, naturally occurring or as a result of bioterrorism
- Ensure appropriate specimen testing of suspicious organisms occurs through coordination with the Laboratory Response Network
A primary activity of the Preparedness Unit is to increase the number of health care providers that participate in the Syndromic Surveillance Program
Syndromic Surveillance was temporarily established in 2004 in preparation for the G-8 Summit in order to detect unusual clusters of illness by analyzing local Emergency Department, patient chief complaint data using the CDC's Early Aberration Reporting System software (http://emergency.cdc.gov/surveillance/ears/).
In 2005, the Division of Public Health, Acute Disease Epidemiology Section centralized the Syndromic Surveillance Program (Program) and the syndromic surveillance module was created and housed in the State Electronic Notifable Disease Surveillance System (SendSS). Participation in the Program is voluntary, and data from participating Hospitals and Urgent Care facilities is transmitted to SendSS for analysis once a day.
De-identified patient chief complaint data are classified into syndromes using a complex text parsing algorithm and analyzed in SendSS each day. The CDC's EARS algorithm is used to detect statistically significant anomalies in the number of events by syndrome at the facility, health district, and state.
Syndromes are classified based upon the way a person describes his or her illness rather than a laboratory confirmed disease diagnosis. For example, "I have a sore throat and a fever" is assigned to the "Influenza- like Illness" syndrome. There are syndromes intended to characterize events that could be related to bioterrorism, infectious disease outbreaks, seasonal viral illnesses, and injuries. Analyzed data are used to detect and characterize clusters of illness, monitor seasonal illness trends, and provide situational awareness.
Numerous qualities of the Program and systemwere recently evaluated according to the CDC's guidelines on how to evaluate a surveillance system. Public health and staff from participating healthcare facilities were surveyed, and variables from system data were analyzed, resulting in a summary report that describes areas of strength and opportunities for improvement. The report can be accessed at the following link:
Syndromic Surveillance, through the timely provision of "Influenza like Illness" (ILI) syndrome data, greatly improves public health's ability to monitor the burden of influenza in local communities, as well as in health districts, and the state. Many facilities participating in the Syndromic Surveillance Program also participate in the ILI Net program coordinated through the state and sponsored by CDC. See the link below for the CDC's Influenza Like Illness (ILI) weekly report:http://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/fluactivity.htm. In addition, influenza like illness data, aggregated for the state of Georgia, is also included on the Georgia's Influenza Surveillance webpage http://health.state.ga.us/epi/flu/fluupd08.asp.