Over the past five years, the very real threat posed by emerging infections and bioterrorism has challenged and revolutionized the practice of disease surveillance. Many cities and countries are constructing new disease surveillance systems. Even the basic concept of surveillance data has changed, expanding dramatically beyond notifiable disease reporting to include sales of medications, emergency department registration records, and absenteeism. New methods have been introduced into routine practice, including time series analysis, spatial scanning, natural language processing, and real-time data collection. These fundamental changes in practice may account for the appearance of a new word—Biosurveillance—that is being used to refer to both this expanded notion of disease surveillance as well as the scientific field itself. The extent of the changes in the science and practice of biosurveillance is reflected in the contents of this book, which bear little resemblance to the contents of recent texts in public health surveillance, epidemiology, or hospital infection control.
The Handbook of Biosurveillance offers a unified, multidisciplinary examination of the field of biosurveillance as both a practice and a scientific field of research.The Handbook reviews the state-of-the-art and covers all facets of the emerging discipline, offering practical advice for organizations developing or acquiring biosurveillance systems as well as an in-depth discussion of the theoretical underpinnings of biosurveillance for researchers.We believe that this book is the first attempt to present a comprehensive unified exposition and definition of the field of biosurveillance and its many components.
We wrote the Handbook to assist individuals who work in biosurveillance to cope with the rapid changes in the field. The book is directed at this audience, which includes epidemiologists, public health physicians, infection control practitioners, researchers, and the information technology staffs of organizations that conduct biosurveillance.The book is also directed to a broader audience that includes policy makers, teachers, microbiologists, and clinicians. The audience that we have in mind also includes fire and police chiefs—who in this modern age find themselves participating in preparedness efforts, developing “all-threat” capabilities, making purchase and acquisition decisions, and writing funding proposals that include technical approaches to biosurveillance—as well as researchers. We wanted to make this field accessible to the interested lay person who wishes to better understand how the flow of people across international borders should be handled to make us less vulnerable to the potential ravages of infectious disease outbreaks as well as acts of bioterrorism. The book assumes little prior knowledge and each chapter begins with basic material and builds to more advanced material.