Syndromic Surveillance in Public Health Practice

The Kansas Syndromic Surveillance Program is already benefiting the public health of Kansas. Emergency preparedness, community leaders, and healthcare providers have been provided access to real-time information on health issues and emerging disasters. More uses for the information are being considered. Successes to date include:

Kansas Uses Syndromic Data to Improve Case Reporting for EVALI

The U.S. outbreak of e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury (EVALI) started receiving major media attention in August 2019. At that same time Kansas identified its first case and issued a statewide health alert to clinicians summarizing a multistate outbreak. This alert used initial syndromic surveillance numbers for respiratory syndrome with mention of e-cigarette or vaping, product use to highlight the possibility of the outbreak reaching Kansas.

Influenza-Like Illness Surveillance by KSSP

Hospital emergency department visits reported by Syndromic Surveillance during the flu season helps health care providers and public health agencies track disease trends and inform how the public can avoid the flu. Seasonal flu can be tracked in near real-time allowing for more timely and accurate responses by families, policymakers, and health professionals.

Heat Stress Illness & Temperature

Exposure to excessive ambient temperature can cause serious illness, injuries, or death, especially if exposure occurs over an extended period of time. Over the past 5 years, an average of 10 Kansas residents die each year with exposure to natural heat as the immediate or underlying cause. Also, each year more than a hundred people are hospitalized due to heat stress.

Harmful Algal Bloom

Kansas bodies of water are known to have algal blooms. Blue-green algae are a common type of bacteria that grow in water. Some blue-green algae produce toxins that could pose a health risk to people and animals when they are exposed to them in large enough quantities.

Environmental Public Health Tracking

Tracking information about Carbon Monoxide Poisoning, Asthma, and Blue-Green Algae Poisoning plays an important role in the efforts to prevent environmental health impacts in Kansas.

Extreme Weather Shelter Project

Kansas is home to extreme heat and extreme cold weather events. KDHE Syndromic Surveillance enables situational awareness for health and emergency preparedness officials who respond to them. The information supports the Extreme Weather Shelter Project that helps Kansans find a place to get out of excessive heat.

Kansas Uses a Novel Approach to Assess Injuries to Agricultural Workers

Agriculture can be a hazardous industry. Farmers, and oftentimes their family members, are at high risk for injuries, fatalities, and illness. Risks include exposure to pesticides on crop farms and the use of tractors, farming equipment, and other machinery.

Kansas Uses Syndromic Surveillance Data to Educate the Public & Providers About Rabies

Rabies is caused by a virus spread to people from the saliva and neural tissue of infected animals. The most common mode of transmission is through the bite of a rabid animal; however, rabies can be transmitted through non-bite exposures, too. In Kansas, suspected or confirmed rabies in humans and confirmed rabies in animals are reportable.

Chemical Spill in Kansas: Importance of Sharing Information Across Sites

Data from Kansas and Missouri hospitals following an accidental release of chlorine gas in Northeast Kansas in October of 2016 provided key situational awareness to emergency responders and management.