Global Capacity for Emerging Infectious Disease Detection, 1996-2014

Emerg Infect Dis. 2016 Oct;22(10):E1-6. doi: 10.3201/eid2210.151956.


The speed with which disease outbreaks are recognized is critical for establishing effective control efforts. We evaluate global improvements in the timeliness of outbreak discovery and communication during 2010-2014 as a follow-up to a 2010 report. For all outbreaks reported by the World Health Organization's Disease Outbreak News, we estimate the number of days from first symptoms until outbreak discovery and until first public communication. We report median discovery and communication delays overall, by region, and by Human Development Index (HDI) quartile. We use Cox proportional hazards regression to assess changes in these 2 outcomes over time, along with Loess curves for visualization. Improvement since 1996 was greatest in the Eastern Mediterranean and Western Pacific regions and in countries in the middle HDI quartiles. However, little progress has occurred since 2010. Further improvements in surveillance will likely require additional international collaboration with a focus on regions of low or unstable HDI.

Keywords: capacity; communication; disease notification; disease outbreaks; emerging infectious disease; global; outbreak detection; public health; surveillance.

MeSH terms

  • Communicable Diseases, Emerging / diagnosis*
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Epidemiological Monitoring*
  • Global Health / trends
  • Humans
  • Time Factors
  • World Health Organization