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

antly from the site of an outbreak investigation, it can be gleaned from websites and news items, it can be obtained from satellite images; our current methods, however, are not up to the challenge of tapping and appropriately analyzing these sources. New techniques are being developed that will dramatically shorten the time it will take us to detect an outbreak," said Fefferman.

"Dynamic mapping, multivariate visualization, flow mapping, outbreak signature forecasting, and large-scale simulations of infection spread are just a few of the tools being developed that might help us better detect the complexities of disease spread. These data analysis tools present huge data sets in such a way that researchers can better detect and interpret trends and anomalies," said Naumova.

"Additionally, we can gain further insight into an outbreak if auxiliary information related to the population is readily available. By including information about demographics, population migration and travel patterns, vaccination patterns, and large social gatherings, we can factor in the many contributors to an outbreak," said Fefferman.

According to the researchers, taking this auxiliary information into account will allow public health researchers to adjust their analyses by population, perhaps examining areas with limited vaccination coverage, or higher proportions of older adults, or heavy traffic from airports and tourism.

"Our hope is that improved disease surveillance tools will help us detect the unique signature of each outbreak, and as a result improve our ability to recognize the warning signs early and with greater accuracy," said Naumova.


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Contact: Siobhan Gallagher
617-636-6586
Tufts University, Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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