Usage and Data Collection Patterns for a Novel Web-Based Foodborne-Disease Surveillance System
* The current national system of surveillance for foodborne and waterborne diseases is the CDC's Foodborne Disease Outbreak Surveillance System.
* It began in 1966 to collect and evaluate data regarding foodborne-disease outbreaks.
* In this system, state and local health departments have the main responsibility for locating and investigating foodborne-disease outbreaks.
* Many local health departments use a standard CDC form, and CDC evaluates the collected data to determine whether a specific food vehicle and etiologic agent have been confirmed for an outbreak.
* Under-reporting is a major hindrance to the surveillance of foodborne illnesses.
* The slow speed of the system is also a problem.
* The RUsick2 Internet forum was developed at the National Food Safety and Toxicology Center on the campus of Michigan State University.
* Initially, the forum was a Web-based system on which residents in a three-county pilot area could report syndromic foodborne disease.
* Residents who had sudden-onset vomiting or diarrhea and suspected their illness was food-related could access the forum to share and compare information.
* The purpose was to identify common food sources, food items, or other commonalities that might warrant an outbreak investigation by the local health department.
* A series of 14 data input screens asked visitors about
-- time of onset,
-- their four-day pre-illness food history,
-- food sources, and
-- information related to non-foodborne sources of common gastrointestinal illness. …