Journal of Urban Health

, Volume 80, Supplement 1, pp i1–i7

Syndromic surveillance: A local perspective


DOI: 10.1093/jurban/jtg042

Cite this article as:
Mostashari, F. & Hartman, J. J Urban Health (2003) 80: i1. doi:10.1093/jurban/jtg042


The promise of syndromic surveillance extends beyond early warning for bioterrorist attacks. Even if bioterrorism is first detected by an astute clinician, syndromic surveillance can help delineate the size, location, and tempo of the epidemic or provide reassurance that a large outbreak is not occurring when a single case or a small, localized cluster of an unusual illness is detected. More broadly, however, as public health and medicine proceed in our information age, the use of existing electronic data for public health surveillance will not appear to be an untested experiment for long. The challenge is to allow these systems to flower without burdening them with unrealistic expectations, centralized control, and unbalanced funding. To help syndromic surveillance systems reach their full potential, we need data standards, guidance to the developers of clinical information systems that will ensure data flow and interoperability, evaluations of best practices, links to improved laboratory diagnostics, regulations that protect privacy and data security, and reliable sustained funding for public health infrastructure to ensure the capacity to respond when the alarm sounds.

Copyright information

© The New York Academy of Medicine 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bureau of Epidemiological ServicesNew York City Department of Health and Mental HygieneNew York
  2. 2.New York Academy of MedicineNew YorkUSA