Surveillance is a key core public health function and has been defined as the regular collection, meaningful analysis, and routine dissemination of relevant data for providing opportunities for public health action to prevent and control disease. In short, surveillance is “information for action”. Surveillance is done for many reasons such as identifying cases of diseases that pose immediate risk to communities, detecting clusters of illness and monitoring trends of disease that may represent outbreaks, evaluating control and prevention measures and developing hypotheses for emerging diseases.
Surveillance systems fall into two categories: passive and active. Active surveillance consists of actively searching for cases by calling or visiting hospitals, schools, and other methods to obtain a more accurate disease picture. Active surveillance is often conducted when an outbreak is detected, during an epidemiological study, discovery of a new disease or when circumstances prompt public health officials to suspect potential bioterrorism around a high-profile event. Passive surveillance, on the other hand, includes traditional reportable disease surveillance, vital statistics, and disease registries. Passive surveillance relies almost entirely upon the regular disease reporting by hospitals, physicians, and laboratories to county or state health departments. Passive Surveillance is required by law for Missouri Reportable Diseases.
We are always recruiting new school based sites for additional active surveillance in Jefferson County. Please contact us at (636) 282-1010 x264 for more information.