Most analyses of possible future bioterrorism events predict they may be similar to the anthrax events of 2001. Specifically, a limited population of individuals may experience morbidity or mortality, but the concern, panic, and worry stirred up by the threat will catch the attention of the entire nation. If public health IT is to help with bioterrorism preparedness, it needs to not only address the mitigation of civilian illnesses and deaths, but also help to manage individual and societal fears springing from the real or threatened occurrence of such an event.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Laboratory Response Network (LRN): The LRN is a network of labs prepared to respond to biological and chemical terrorism. The LRN has responded to the anthrax events of 2001, the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome events of 2003, and the ricin events of 2003 to 2004, as well as other outbreak events.
Electronic Laboratory Reporting (ELR): ELR is the reporting of test results among multiple partners, including local health departments, hospitals, and federal entities.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): The CDC is a federal government agency located under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The CDC’s mission is to promote health and quality of life by preventing and controlling disease, injury, and disability.
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA): HIPAA was passed by the U.S. Congress. Part of HIPAA requires the removal of personal identifiers from data sent to state and federal partners.
National Electronic Disease Surveillance System (NEDSS): The NEDSS is an effort to generate standards for the sharing of public health data primarily focused on the exchange of state health department data with the CDC.
Syndromic Surveillance: It refers to the ongoing, routine monitoring of incoming data streams from multiple data sources for reported syndromes of interest.
Aberration Detection: Aberration detection is the analysis of data (e.g., 911 calls, ER data, school absenteeism data) for anomalous patterns in support of public health. Analysis can be either for sentinel or syndromic surveillance.
Health Level Seven (HL7): HL7 is a set of standards for the electronic exchange of health-related data.
Early Aberration Reporting System (EARS): The EARS is a freely available software tool developed to provide state and local health departments with the ability to apply aberration detection methods of proven degrees of sensitivity.
Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Program (BPRP): This is a program located under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. BPRP is responsible for several aspects of the detection, identification, and response to a national bioterrorism event.