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Researchers envision better disease surveillance to improve public health
Date:7/13/2010

BOSTON (July 13, 2010) With current public health threats ranging from swine flu to bioterrorism to environmental contamination, innovations that better predict disease outbreaks have vast potential to protect the public. In a paper published online in advance of print on July 6 in Emerging Health Threats Journal, public health researchers describe their vision for the future of disease surveillance, detailing innovations on the horizon that may facilitate earlier detection and improved public health preparedness.

"Advances in identifying and gathering data, techniques for combining and processing that data, and technologies that enable deeper data analysis will facilitate a new paradigm in outbreak definition and detection. Our goal is to develop data analysis tools that can accurately determine both the probability that an outbreak will occur and its predicted severity," said co-author Elena Naumova, PhD, professor of public health and community medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine (TUSM).

"There are many obstacles to improving tools for disease surveillance. Varying definitions of what constitutes an outbreak, differences in the quality and source of data, and differences in how quickly diseases progress and spread all of these are realities that make it challenging to accurately and efficiently predict an outbreak," said Naumova.

In the current study, Naumova and co-author Nina Fefferman, PhD, describe cutting-edge methods that address these obstacles and have the potential to revolutionize the way disease data is processed and analyzed. Fefferman is an assistant professor in the department of ecology, evolution, and natural resources at Rutgers University as well as a research assistant professor in the department of public health and community medicine at TUSM.

"There is vast, untapped potential in the multitude of new data streams made available by technological progress. Data can be submitted inst
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Contact: Siobhan Gallagher
617-636-6586
Tufts University, Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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