the presentations that were made to provide an overview of several global infectious disease surveillance systems and lessons learned.
Several options are available to monitor and track emerging zoonotic diseases in humans. Marlo Libel, of the Pan American Health Organization, described one that uses an automated process to track and filter news reports of outbreaks from around the world. The Global Public Health Intelligence Network (GPHIN), which was originally developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), is a web-based system to which users can subscribe for a fee. Users include governments around the world as well as nongovernmental agencies and organizations. Current subscribers include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), WHO, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, and the European Commission.
According to the GPHIN website, the network has multilingual capacity and monitors news sources and translates documents in seven languages (Arabic, English, French, Russian, Simplified and Traditional Chinese, and Spanish) via the Internet; with plans to add languages in the future. Libel noted that Portuguese and Farsi have been added to the multilingual capacity. Monitoring continues 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Sources include websites, news wires, and other Internet-based information outlets. GPHIN tracks not only outbreaks of human disease, but also information related to animal and plant diseases, such as Streptococcus suis and soybean rust. Also tracked are contamination of food and water; natural disasters; product or drug safety; and chemical or biological exposures caused by terrorism or accident.
The system automatically filters the information, Libel explained, identifying duplicate reports and assigning a relevancy score, based on criteria built into the program. According to its website, “if the filtering identifies information about an event of significant public health risk, this information is automatically forwarded to GPHIN users by e-mail. The results of the relevancy filtering is then analyzed by the Agency’s [Public Health Agency of Canada] GPHIN officials to ensure accuracy of the automated process.” Libel noted that additional analyses by the human experts precede any publication with an alert that is then distributed automatically to subscribers.
GPHIN is designed to pay particular attention to a small number of human diseases that are of particular concern for even one case per the International Health Regulations: influenza, polio, Severe Acute Respira-