The emerging science of very early detection of disease outbreaks

J Public Health Manag Pract. 2001 Nov;7(6):51-9. doi: 10.1097/00124784-200107060-00006.


A surge of development of new public health surveillance systems designed to provide more timely detection of outbreaks suggests that public health has a new requirement: extreme timeliness of detection. The authors review previous work relevant to measuring timeliness and to defining timeliness requirements. Using signal detection theory and decision theory, the authors identify strategies to improve timeliness of detection and position ongoing system development within that framework.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bioterrorism
  • Communicable Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Decision Theory
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Humans
  • Information Systems
  • Public Health Administration
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sentinel Surveillance*
  • United States