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Emergency Preparedness and Response

Surveillance

This concise definition of surveillance was borrowed from the publication, Updated Guidelines for Evaluating Public Health Surveillance Systems Recommendations from the Guidelines Working Group, published by the CDC in 2001 and is a combination of various definitions.

Public health surveillance is the ongoing, systematic collection, analysis, interpretation, and dissemination of data regarding a health-related event for use in public health action to reduce morbidity and mortality and to improve health (CDC,2001). Data disseminated by a public health surveillance system can be used for immediate public health action, program planning and evaluation, and formulating research hypotheses. For example, data from a public health surveillance system can be used to:

  • Guide immediate action for cases of public health importance;
  • Measure the burden of a disease (or other health-related event), including changes in related factors, the identification of populations at high risk, and the identification of new or emerging health concerns;
  • Monitor trends in the burden of a disease (or other health-related event), including the detection of epidemics (outbreaks) and pandemics;
    Guide the planning, implementation, and evaluation of programs to prevent and control disease, injury, or adverse exposure;
  • Evaluate public policy;
  • Detect changes in health practices and the effects of these changes;
  • Prioritize the allocation of health resources;
  • Describe the clinical course of disease;
  • Provide a basis for epidemiologic research.