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Real-time surveillance of influenza/pneumonia deaths: new strategies using grid computing and natural language processing


Surveillance of deaths due to influenza and pneumonia using death records has the potential to be a relatively inexpensive and quick approach to tracking and detecting influenza and respiratory illness outbreaks; however, presently such a system does not exist because of the time delays in processing death records: in Utah, as is similar elsewhere in the United States, coded death certificate data are typically not available for at least 1–3 months after the date of death, and coded national vital statistics data are not available until after 2–3 years.


This poster presents the rationale for designing a real-time surveillance system, based on mortality data, using grid and natural language processing tools that will address the current barrier that coded death certificate data not being available for several months. To develop a public health tool that delivers a timely surveillance system for influenza and pneumonia, we integrated death certificates from the Utah Department of Health, analytical grid services, and natural language processing tools to monitor levels of mortality. This example demonstrates how local, state, and national authorities can automate their influenza and pneumonia surveillance system, and expand the number of reporting cities.

Submitted by uysz on