Book and Media Reviews Section Editor: John L. Zeller, MD, PhD, Contributing Editor.
A fundamental function of public health is surveillance—the early identification of an epidemic, disease, or health problem within a population. The events of the past decade, from anthrax infections to sudden acute respiratory syndrome to avian flu, highlight the need for effective surveillance. Quick informed action can save lives,
protect the public, and reduce the impact of disease. But the concurrent decline in public health infrastructure and the tightening of public health budgets makes surveillance more difficult. This, coupled with a wave of retirements of experienced surveillance professionals, suggests that the need for training in surveillance may be at a high point.
Fortunately, the rise of public health informatics—the application of data, technology, and computer science to surveillance—provides an opportunity to begin to better understand, identify, and predict disease outbreaks.
Lopez R. Disease Surveillance: A Public Health Informatics Approach. JAMA. 2007;298(23):2796-2800. doi:10.1001/jama.298.23.2799-a