and have some type of active or passive surveillance for many well-characterized agents. However, many developing countries—where most of the global population resides—lack the resources or infrastructure to support such activities.

One way to close this gap in infectious disease surveillance and detection may lie with the dispersion of technological advances such as regional syndromic surveillance, bioinformatics, and rapid diagnostic methods. Such tools and approaches have already made important contributions to infectious disease control and prevention efforts, albeit mainly in the developed world. Further improvements are expected to result from ongoing progress in infectious disease awareness and reporting, and from the continued development and deployment of efficient, low-cost diagnostic platforms. A major challenge to global disease surveillance and detection, and to this workshop, is not only the detection and reporting of well-characterized “known” infectious diseases, but also the ability to detect novel, emerging, or reemerging infectious diseases in relatively low-tech environments. There is a corresponding need to also develop redundant/ complimentary systems for infectious disease detection that go beyond the yield of the more traditional surveillance systems and approaches.

The Institute of Medicine’s (IOM’s) Forum on Microbial Threats convened a workshop addressing Global Infectious Disease Surveillance and Detection: Assessing the Challenges—Finding Solutions on December 12 and 13, 2006, to consider these and other scientific and policy issues relevant to the practice of disease surveillance and detection. To adequately cover a broad range of topics related to global infectious disease surveillance and detection, the Forum had to be selective in prioritizing the challenges and exploring solutions to disease detection and surveillance.

While the workshop did explore a variety of conventional and novel approaches for disease surveillance and detection, the workshop organizers did not attempt to critique standard domestic disease detection approaches nor did the workshop make recommendations about what an “optimal” or “desirable” disease surveillance and detection system would look like. Workshop participants examined current and emerging methods and strategies for the surveillance, detection, and diagnosis of human, animal, and plant diseases in order to assess resource needs and opportunities for improving and coordinating global infectious disease surveillance, detection, and reporting.

Organization of Workshop Summary

This workshop summary was prepared for the Forum membership in the name of the rapporteurs and includes a collection of individually authored papers and commentary.1 Sections of the workshop summary not specifically attributed


The individually authored papers and commentaries of the speakers and participants at this workshop reflect their appreciation of disease detection and surveillance. As such, we have limited control over how the experts defined disease surveillance and detection. For our purposes, surveillance is defined on page 1.

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