Enhancing Influenza Surveillance Using Electronic Surveillance System for the Early Notification of Community-Based Epidemics (ESSENCE)   [open pdf - 469KB]

"Influenza is a cause of preventable morbidity and mortality; timely analysis of surveillance data may allow earlier recognition of outbreaks, potentially including those caused by new influenza strains. Influenza-like Illness (ILI) is of particular interest in surveillance because many bio-warfare and bio-terrorism agents cause flu-like syndromes. The Department of Defense Global Emerging Infections Surveillance and Response System (DoD-GEIS) sponsors two programs, ESSENCE (The Electronic Surveillance System for the Early Notification of Community-based Epidemics) and the DoD Influenza Surveillance Program, that could assist in influenza outbreak detection and response. ESSENCE utilizes military beneficiary population outpatient visits data to detect aberrations in daily counts of ICD-9 based syndrome groups. Begun in 1999 in the Washington, DC area and expanded in 2001 following the events of September 11, this system analyzes outpatient visit data across DoD military treatment facilities (MTFs), in the US and abroad. A prior study assessed the value of ESSENCE data in detecting yearly influenza activity by comparing it to a traditional influenza surveillance system used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Results of that study showed similarity between the rates of ILI visits to sentinel physicians in the South-Atlantic region and military facilities in the National Capital Area. Soon after September 11, 2002, ESSENCE began receiving outpatient data from all US MTFs in the world and making syndromic surveillance data easily available throughout DoD installations."

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