Automated use of WHONET and SaTScan to detect outbreaks of Shigella spp. using antimicrobial resistance phenotypes

Epidemiol Infect. 2010 Jun;138(6):873-83. doi: 10.1017/S0950268809990884. Epub 2009 Oct 2.


Antimicrobial resistance is a priority emerging public health threat, and the ability to detect promptly outbreaks caused by resistant pathogens is critical for resistance containment and disease control efforts. We describe and evaluate the use of an electronic laboratory data system (WHONET) and a space-time permutation scan statistic for semi-automated disease outbreak detection. In collaboration with WHONET-Argentina, the national network for surveillance of antimicrobial resistance, we applied the system to the detection of local and regional outbreaks of Shigella spp. We searched for clusters on the basis of genus, species, and resistance phenotype and identified 19 statistical 'events' in a 12-month period. Of the six known outbreaks reported to the Ministry of Health, four had good or suggestive agreement with SaTScan-detected events. The most discriminating analyses were those involving resistance phenotypes. Electronic laboratory-based disease surveillance incorporating statistical cluster detection methods can enhance infectious disease outbreak detection and response.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Argentina / epidemiology
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Disease Outbreaks / prevention & control
  • Disease Outbreaks / statistics & numerical data*
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial*
  • Dysentery, Bacillary / epidemiology*
  • Geography
  • Humans
  • Phenotype
  • Sentinel Surveillance
  • Shigella / classification
  • Shigella / genetics
  • Shigella / isolation & purification*