Bioterrorism surveillance

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Increasing concern about the threat of bioterrorism has stimulated efforts to improve infectious disease surveillance and develop greater capacity for early detection and control of outbreaks. Traditional surveillance systems are limited due to their lack of sensitivity and slow reporting mechanisms. In order to redress those limitations, substantial resources have been invested in the development of sophisticated electronic reporting systems, based on non-specific syndromic signs and symptoms. While syndromic surveillance systems have been tested on naturally occurring diseases, whilst their efficacy and usefulness for the early detection of bioterrorism outbreaks remain questionable. Based on the fundamentals of the natural history of the diseases and on simulated outbreaks, syndromic-type surveillance is unlikely to detect outbreaks caused by bioterrorism category A agents, prior to clinical and laboratory diagnoses of the early cases. Early detection of such outbreaks will depend on alert physicians, particularly in the emergency rooms, and training should be a priority in the allocation of resources. Nevertheless, syndromic surveillance systems can play an essential role in providing data for decision making in the outbreak. This should be the prime motivation for developing and deploying such systems.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGlobal Biosecurity
Subtitle of host publicationThreats and Responses
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9781135273026
ISBN (Print)9780415460538
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2010

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2010 Peter Katona, John P. Sullivan and Michael D. Intriligator for selection and editorial matter; individual contributors, their contributions.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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