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Emerging infectious diseases repeatedly challenge hospitals, communities, and public health infrastructures. In the last year, pediatricians have become aware of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Ebola. These diseases prompt discussion about appropriate measures to protect health care workers and prevent spread in hospitals and the community, development of rapid diagnostics for early recognition, mobilization of trained staff to care for patients, and management of increased patient volumes (“surge”). In the midst of the many unknowns uncovered in preparation for MERS and Ebola, in August 2014, Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, and the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital in Illinois reported increased pediatric hospitalizations of children with severe respiratory illness.1 Since then, many more states have reported similar trends and the numbers continue to rise.2 The rapid identification of clusters of patients admitted for similar syndromes (ie, syndromic surveillance) led to early dissemination of information to health care workers across the country and to implementation of emergency preparedness plans. Was this a successful test of our public health infrastructure?
Shaw J, Welch TR, Milstone AM. The Role of Syndromic Surveillance in Directing the Public Health Response to the Enterovirus D68 Epidemic. JAMA Pediatr. 2014;168(11):981-982. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2014.2628