H. Rept. 109-436: Strengthening Disease Surveillance, Eighth Report, April 25, 2006   [open pdf - 850KB]

"The spread of the H5N1 virus and the threat of pandemic influenza is the most recent reminder of the need for sensitive, vigilant disease surveillance. In 2002, the world conducted an involuntary, live-fire exercise of public health capacity against bioterrorism. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome [SARS] emerged from the microbial hothouse of the Far East through the same vulnerabilities and vectors terrorists would exploit to spread weaponized, genetically altered disease. The global response to SARS underscores the vital significance of sensitive disease surveillance in protecting public health from natural, and unnatural, outbreaks. It also discloses serious gaps and persistent weaknesses in international and U.S. health monitoring. The lessons of the West Nile virus and mail-borne anthrax have not gone unheeded. Substantial enhancements have been made to the accuracy, speed and breadth of health surveillance systems at home and abroad. The limited impact of SARS here can be attributed, in part, to increased preparedness to detect, control and treat outbreaks of known and unknown diseases. But the surveillance system standing guard over America's public health today is still a gaudy patchwork of jurisdictionally narrow, wildly variant, technologically backward data collection and communications capabilities. Records critical to early identification of anomalous symptom clusters and disease diagnoses are not routinely collected. Formats for recording and reporting the same data differ widely between cities, counties and states. Many key records are still generated on paper, faxed to state or Federal health authorities and entered manually one or more times into potentially incompatible databases."

Report Number:
H. Rept. 109-436; House Report 109-436
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
U.S. Government Printing Office: http://www.gpo.gov/
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