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Flu Near You: A Guide to Engaging in Participatory Disease Surveillance


 

Local health departments rely on surveillance systems and timely reports to detect diseases. Delays in identifying outbreaks may occur, however, with traditional surveillance systems that depend largely, but not exclusively, on case reporting from laboratories and healthcare facilities when individuals seek medical care. Increasing public use of the Internet and mobile technology to obtain and share health information have highlighted new opportunities for digital disease detection and identification based on individuals reporting on their health status via social media and other Internet or mobile platforms. Such participatory surveillance systems and strategies have the potential to supplement traditional public health surveillance systems and more rapidly expose disease emergence and transmission.

FNYimageThrough Flu Near You, thousands of volunteers answer a brief, weekly digital questionnaire about their health to benefit their community's flu awareness and tracking. NACCHO is working with the Skoll Global Threats Fund in partnership with HealthMap of Boston Children's Hospital to explore how local health departments can work with people in their communities to enroll them in Flu Near You and how to leverage the data as part of ongoing local influenza surveillance efforts. With more people enrolled in Flu Near You, the aggregate data can outline regional flu trends more accurately and complement existing public health surveillance systems.

This guide is a collection of resources and information to help local health departments and their partners begin or enhance their work with Flu Near You. Each chapter represents a step that individuals or organizations can take to engage with Flu Near You and includes articles, sample materials, and examples of work that others have done with this platform.

 
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