Stat Program to Detect Bioterrorist Threats

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Cameron Marlow: Syndromic surveillance

"After 9/11/01, the CDC Division of Public Health Surveillance with help from Homeland Security implemented a new program for tracking possible bioterrorist threats, known as syndromic surveillance. Instead of relying on medical diagnosis of individual doctors, the system looks for statistical anomalies across the symptoms reported in recent emergency room visits and notifies epidemiologists when attention is needed. Doctors tend to use the Occam’s Razor approach to diagnosis, assuming that common illnesses are the cause for most medical visits; without any awareness of hospital- or city-wide statistics, a bioterrorist assault could go undetected for weeks until initial cases had progressed into more severe symptoms."

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