"The United States faces many potential threats to human health, including natural disease outbreaks, environmental exposures, and acts of terrorism. In today's modern world of high-density population centers and global mass transit such threats and hazards can significantly impact human health. These potential threats speak to the need for an integrated all-hazards approach to health security by all sectors of society. At the same time, the broader and more sophisticated use of information technology, new information sources, and analytic techniques holds the potential to accelerate recognition of health threats and improve the accuracy of assessments. With greater availability and real-time delivery of health information it may be possible to maintain a comprehensive picture of the nation's health and detect aberrations in illness patterns faster and more accurately. These new opportunities and increasing threats demand a national vision for biosurveillance that builds on existing capabilities and relationships while investing in innovative and science-driven tools and methods. Effective biosurveillance embraces a complementary 'system of systems' that leverages the data collection and analyses performed at the local level while incorporating broader national perspectives. Biosurveillance in the context of human health is a new term for the science and practice of managing health-related data and information for early warning of threats and hazards, early detection of events, and rapid characterization of the event so that effective actions can be taken to mitigate adverse health effects. It represents a new health information paradigm that seeks to integrate and efficiently manage health-related data and information across a range of information systems toward timely and accurate population health situation awareness."
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/