University of Michigan research shows web-based system could help improve detection and response to spread of illnesses
Researchers who designed the biosurveillance system will describe how it can be used to track illness trends and improve public health response to outbreaks during a presentation at 2:09 p.m. PDT in Marina Ballroom Salon E at the San Diego Marriott Marquis.
“For example, if certain child care centers are reporting the beginning of stomach flu (vomiting and diarrhea), other centers can start taking steps to thoroughly clean to kill any viruses before symptoms occur or before a major outbreak takes place,” says Andrew N. Hashikawa, M.D., F.A.A.P., a pediatric emergency physician at the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.
In addition, if child care providers see that larger centers in their community are reporting flu-like illness, they can use the data to emphasize to parents the need to have their children immunized against influenza sooner rather than later, says Hashikawa, who also is assistant professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine, Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine, at the University of Michigan Medical School.
Children under age 5 generally become sick earlier and more frequently than school-aged children and adults because their immune systems are underdeveloped. Young children often are responsible for spreading viruses to the rest of the community.
Previously some public health departments have found that school absenteeism as a marker for illness was imprecise, delayed, and unavailable during summer and winter breaks.
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