The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

4132.0: Tuesday, November 18, 2003 - 1:24 PM

Abstract #68952

Detecting Bioterrorism Events: Practical Strategies for Implementing Aberration Detection Using the EARS System

G. Matthew Seeman, BA, Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Program, National Center for Infectious Disease, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road, MS-C18, Atlanta, GA 30333, (404) 634-1679, seem2215@bellsouth.net, Lori C. Hutwagner, MS, Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Program, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road, MS-C18, Atlanta, GA 30333, and Tracee Treadwell, NCID/BPRP, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road, NE, MS C-18, Atlanta, GA 30333.

The Early Aberration Reporting System (EARS) is a software system that conducts aberration detection analyses of surveillance data in order to enable the early detection of bioterrorism events and other disease outbreaks. Since 1999, the EARS system has been applied to a wide variety of data including emergency room (ER) data surrounding large public events, 911 call data, physician visit data, and school absenteeism data. This system enables the local health professional to quickly analyze, visualize, and interpret aberrant trends in their local data.

The EARS system implements validated aberration detection methodologies and produces the results in the form of an HTML-based website. In addition to the aberration detection results, the website provides summary tables and trend graphs of recent data. The system provides a wide variety of options allowing the epidimeologist to customize the analysis and website to local specifications. The analysis can be stratified by geographic area and demographics. After initial implementation, daily updates of the analysis require little or none of the epidemiologistís time, allowing him/her to concentrate on interpreting the results. Similarly, the format of the website and the data visualizations allow the epidemiologist to quickly review the analysis in order to identify any aberrant trends that warrant further investigation.

This paper reviews the general characteristics of the EARS system, discusses practical strategies for the implementation of aberration detection with the EARS system, and describes several local public health departments that have already implemented aberration detection using the EARS system.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Bioterrorism, Surveillance

Related Web page: www.bt.cdc.gov/ears

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Bioterrorism and Epidemiology: Questions, Methods and Outcomes

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA