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Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: Glossary." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2011. BioWatch and Public Health Surveillance: Evaluating Systems for the Early Detection of Biological Threats: Abbreviated Version. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12688.
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Appendix B
Glossary

Active surveillance: Public health surveillance in which the health agency solicits reports of cases of disease, injury, or other conditions.

Agent: see Biological agent.

Air sampling: Determining quantities and types of atmospheric contaminants by collecting and measuring a representative sample of air.

Alarm: A signal that warns or alerts to the presence of danger or a malfunction.

Assay: A quantitative or qualitative evaluation of the presence or amount of a given substance in a particular sample.

BAR false negative: Failure to declare a BAR when a bioterrorist attack has occurred.

BAR false positive: Declaration of a BAR when a bioterrorist attack has not occurred.

Biodefense: Procedures involved in taking defensive measures against attacks using biological agents.

Biological agent: A microorganism (or a toxin derived from it) that causes disease in humans, plants, or animals and is used in bioterrorism or biological warfare.

Biological terrorism: The intentional use of microorganisms, or toxins derived from living organisms, to produce death or disease in humans, animals, or plants.

Biosurveillance: The process of active data-gathering with appropriate analysis and interpretation of biosphere data that might relate to disease activity and threats to human or animal health—whether infectious, toxic,

Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: Glossary." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2011. BioWatch and Public Health Surveillance: Evaluating Systems for the Early Detection of Biological Threats: Abbreviated Version. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12688.
×

metabolic, or otherwise, and regardless of intentional or natural origin—in order to achieve early warning of health threats, early detection of health events, and overall situational awareness of disease activity.

Bioterrorism: See Biological terrorism.

BioWatch Actionable Result: A determination that occurs when analysis of a filter from a BioWatch sampler indicates the confirmed presence of a target organism’s nucleic acid signature.

BioWatch jurisdiction: A major metropolitan area—which may include one or more city, county, state, or regional decision-making bodies—where BioWatch air samplers are operating.

BioWatch program: An activity funded by the Department of Homeland Security that uses sets of air samplers in more than 30 jurisdictions to collect airborne particles onto filters that are subsequently transported to laboratories for analysis for the presence of genetic material from certain biological agents.

BioWatch system: The collection of operational components (which are themselves systems) that produce information from air sampling and feed it into a public health decision-making process to determine the appropriate response to a BioWatch Actionable Result (BAR).

Catastrophic health event: Any natural or man-made incident, including terrorism, that results in a number of ill or injured persons sufficient to overwhelm the capabilities of immediate local and regional emergency response and health care systems.

Contagious: Transmissible by direct or indirect contact with an infected organism.

Detection: The determination or recognition of the presence of an object or state of interest.

Detector: A data collection and processing technology that both collects and evaluates data.

Environmental sampling: In the context of the BioWatch system, physical sampling of the environment where a BAR was declared to provide decision makers with a more accurate situational assessment of a BAR and to inform appropriate public health response action.

Environmental surveillance: Monitoring of the environment to evaluate potential exposure to harmful agents and damage to living organisms.

Epidemiologic surveillance: The process of actively gathering and analyzing data related to human health and disease in a population in order to obtain early warning of human health events, rapid characterization of human disease events, and overall situational awareness of disease activity in the human population.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: Glossary." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2011. BioWatch and Public Health Surveillance: Evaluating Systems for the Early Detection of Biological Threats: Abbreviated Version. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12688.
×

False negative: A negative result for a given target when the target is present.

False positive: A positive result for a given target when the target is not present.

High-regret decision: A decision that results in major disruption or has important health or economic risks.

Incidence: A measure of the frequency with which new cases of illness, injury, or other health condition occurs among a population during a specified period.

Index case: The earliest documented case of a disease that is included in an epidemiological investigation of a disease outbreak.

Laboratory Response Network (LRN): A national network of local, state, and federal public health, health care, food, agriculture, veterinary, and environmental testing laboratories that provide the laboratory infrastructure and capacity to respond to biological and chemical terrorism and other public health emergencies.

Lidar: The word comes from the acronym for light detection and ranging. Lidars transmit and receive pulses of laser radiation and use the time between transmission and the reflected pulse to determine the distance of an object.

Low-regret decision: A decision that does not result in large risks to the public’s health, convenience, or confidence in the decision maker.

Monitoring: Periodic or continuous surveillance or testing to determine the presence or level of a substance of interest in various media or in humans, plants, and animals.

Multiplex (assay): A type of laboratory procedure that performs multiple, molecular-based assays concurrently. It is distinguished from procedures that perform one or a few molecular assays at a time.

Outbreak: The occurrence of more cases of disease, injury, or other health condition than expected in a given area or among a specific group of persons during a specific period. Usually, the cases are presumed to have a common cause or to be related to one another in some way. Sometimes distinguished from an epidemic as more localized or as a term less likely to evoke public panic.

Panel: A set of assays used to test for the presence or absence of a particular target organism or set of organisms.

Passive surveillance: Public health surveillance in which data are sent to a health agency without prompting.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: Glossary." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2011. BioWatch and Public Health Surveillance: Evaluating Systems for the Early Detection of Biological Threats: Abbreviated Version. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12688.
×

Pathogen: An organism capable of causing infection and disease.

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR): A technique in molecular genetics that is used to reproduce (amplify) selected sections of DNA enzymatically. It permits the analysis of any short sequence of DNA (or RNA) without the need for cloning.

Prevalence: The number of cases of a specific disease or attribute present in a given population at a specified point in time or during a specified period of time.

Public health: The science and practice of protecting and improving the overall health of the community through disease prevention and early diagnosis, control of communicable diseases, health education, injury prevention, sanitation, and protection from environmental hazards.

Public health and medical preparedness: The existence of plans, procedures, policies, training, and equipment necessary to maximize the ability to prevent, respond to, and recover from major events, including efforts that result in the capability to render an appropriate public health and medical response that will mitigate the effects of illness and injury, limit morbidity and mortality to the maximum extent possible, and sustain societal, economic, and political infrastructure.

Public health surveillance: Ongoing, systematic collection, analysis, and interpretation of health-related data essential to the planning, implementation, and evaluation of public health practice, closely integrated with the timely dissemination of these data to those responsible for prevention and control.

Screening: In the context of the BioWatch system, analysis of air sampler filters for a genetic signature of a particular pathogen.

Sensitivity: The probability that a system will correctly indicate the presence of a particular substance when the substance is present above a certain concentration.

Sensor: A device that detects, qualitatively or quantitatively, the presence of a physical entity and produces a signal that can be read by an observer or an instrument.

Situational awareness: The perception of environmental elements within a given time and space, the comprehension of their meaning, and the projection of their status in the near future.

Specificity: The ability to correctly identify the absence of a target substance when it is not present.

Surveillance: Surveillance is a systematic method for continuous monitoring to detect changes in trend or distribution to initiate investigative or control measures.

Syndromic surveillance: A system for early detection of outbreaks whereby health department staff, assisted by automated acquisition of data

Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: Glossary." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2011. BioWatch and Public Health Surveillance: Evaluating Systems for the Early Detection of Biological Threats: Abbreviated Version. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12688.
×

routinely collected for other purposes and computer generation of statistical signals, monitor disease indicators, particularly those associated with possible terrorism-related biologic and chemical agents, continually or at least daily to detect outbreaks earlier than would otherwise be possible with traditional public health methods.

Technology Readiness Level: An element of a classification scheme used by the Department of Defense and other U.S. government agencies to characterize the maturity of evolving technologies before incorporating that technology into a system or subsystem.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: Glossary." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2011. BioWatch and Public Health Surveillance: Evaluating Systems for the Early Detection of Biological Threats: Abbreviated Version. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12688.
×

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Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: Glossary." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2011. BioWatch and Public Health Surveillance: Evaluating Systems for the Early Detection of Biological Threats: Abbreviated Version. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12688.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: Glossary." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2011. BioWatch and Public Health Surveillance: Evaluating Systems for the Early Detection of Biological Threats: Abbreviated Version. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12688.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: Glossary." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2011. BioWatch and Public Health Surveillance: Evaluating Systems for the Early Detection of Biological Threats: Abbreviated Version. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12688.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: Glossary." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2011. BioWatch and Public Health Surveillance: Evaluating Systems for the Early Detection of Biological Threats: Abbreviated Version. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12688.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: Glossary." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2011. BioWatch and Public Health Surveillance: Evaluating Systems for the Early Detection of Biological Threats: Abbreviated Version. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12688.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: Glossary." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2011. BioWatch and Public Health Surveillance: Evaluating Systems for the Early Detection of Biological Threats: Abbreviated Version. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12688.
×
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Following the attacks of September 11, 2001 and the anthrax letters, the ability to detect biological threats as quickly as possible became a top priority. In 2003 the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) introduced the BioWatch program--a federal monitoring system intended to speed detection of specific biological agents that could be released in aerosolized form during a biological attack.

The present volume evaluates the costs and merits of both the current BioWatch program and the plans for a new generation of BioWatch devices. BioWatch and Public Health Surveillance also examines infectious disease surveillance through hospitals and public health agencies in the United States, and considers whether BioWatch and traditional infectious disease surveillance are redundant or complementary.

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