The session ended with a question-and-answer period. The discussion covered immediate steps to initiate surveillance, the types of data to monitor, and strategies to communicate results of surveillance to the public.
Thomas Matte, Hunter College and City University of New York School of Public Health
Drawing on his experiences in New York City, Thomas Matte addressed the different goals and methods of public health surveillance and research in the context of emergency-response settings. Using 9/11, the H1N1 outbreak, and blackouts as examples, Matte addressed the concepts of surveillance and research, noting that surveillance and research have different goals but overlap and must necessarily inform one another. He ultimately identified several types of surveillance-generated and research-generated information and data that could be used to assess and reduce the oil disaster’s overall health impact.
Matte focused his remarks on four types of data sources and methods relevant to disaster settings: (1) syndromic surveillance; (2) surveys; (3) other surveillance activities, including registries, cohorts, and panels; and (4) worker medical surveillance.
Matte stated that syndromic surveillance involves tracking nondiagnostic health indicators. (See Chapter 4 for descriptions of state-level syndromic surveillance systems that are already in place for monitoring the potential health outcomes of the Gulf oil disaster.) Syndromic surveillance systems among New York City emergency departments have evolved since their establishment 2 days after the 2001 World Trade Center attack. Those same systems played a major role in tracking