Utility of the ESSENCE Surveillance System in Monitoring the H1N1 Outbreak

Rekha S Holtry, Lang M Hung, Sheri H. Lewis


The Electronic Surveillance System for the Early Notification of Community-Based Epidemics (ESSENCE) enables health care practitioners to detect and monitor health indicators of public health importance. ESSENCE is used by public health departments in the National Capital Region (NCR); a cross-jurisdictional data sharing agreement has allowed cooperative health information sharing in the region since 2004. Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) in the NCR from 2008 are compared to those of 2009. Important differences in the rates, timing, and demographic composition of ILI visits were found. By monitoring a regional surveillance system, public health practitioners had an increased ability to understand the magnitude and character of different ILI outbreaks. This increased ability provided crucial community-level information on which to base response and control measures for the novel 2009 H1N1 influenza outbreak. This report underscores the utility of automated surveillance systems in monitoring community-based outbreaks.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5210/ojphi.v2i3.3028

Online Journal of Public Health Informatics * ISSN 1947-2579 * http://ojphi.org