Syndromic surveillance of respiratory disease in free-living chimpanzees

Wolf TM, Singer RS, Lonsdorf EV, Maclehose R, Gillespie TR, Lipende I, Raphael J, Terio K, Murray C, Pusey A, Hahn BH, Kamenya S, Mjungu D, Travis DA

Disease surveillance in wildlife is rapidly expanding in scope and methodology, emphasizing the need for formal evaluations of system performance. We examined a syndromic surveillance system for respiratory disease detection in Gombe National Park, Tanzania, from 2004 to 2012, with respect to data quality, disease trends, and respiratory disease detection. Data quality was assessed by examining community coverage, completeness, and consistency. The data were examined for baseline trends; signs of respiratory disease occurred at a mean frequency of less than 1 case per week, with most weeks containing zero observations of abnormalities. Seasonal and secular (i.e., over a period of years) trends in respiratory disease frequency were not identified. These baselines were used to develop algorithms for outbreak detection using both weekly counts and weekly prevalence thresholds and then compared retrospectively on the detection of 13 respiratory disease clusters from 2005 to 2012. Prospective application of outbreak detection algorithms to real-time syndromic data would be useful in triggering a rapid outbreak response, such as targeted diagnostic sampling, enhanced surveillance, or mitigation.

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