Disease detection, epidemiology and outbreak response: the digital future of public health practice

Life Sci Soc Policy. 2018 Apr 1;14(1):7. doi: 10.1186/s40504-018-0071-4.


Inequalities persist when it comes to the attention, resource allocation and political prioritization, and provision of appropriate, adequate, and timely health interventions to populations in need. Set against a complex socio-political backdrop, the pressure on public health science is significant: institutions and scientists are accountable for helping to find the origins of disease, and to prevent and respond effectively more rapidly than ever. In the field of infectious disease epidemiology, new digital methods are contributing to a new 'digital epidemiology' and are seen as a promising way to increase effectivity and speed of response to infectious disease and public health events. New types of health data and access to personal information that are available through diverse channels will continue to have wide implications for epidemiology and public health practice. The purpose of this short paper is to introduce the emerging backdrop of practical and ethical challenges for those involved within the practice of public health as they face increasing collaborations with those from fields that have not traditionally applied their methods to epidemiology.

MeSH terms

  • Data Collection / ethics*
  • Data Collection / methods
  • Disease Outbreaks / ethics*
  • Epidemiologic Studies*
  • Humans
  • Information Dissemination / ethics*
  • Information Dissemination / methods
  • Population Surveillance / methods*
  • Public Health / ethics*
  • Public Health / methods*