Presyndromic surveillance for improved detection of emerging public health threats

Mallory Nobles, Ramona Lall, Robert W. Mathes, Daniel B. Neill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Existing public health surveillance systems that rely on predefined symptom categories, or syndromes, are effective at monitoring known illnesses, but there is a critical need for innovation in "presyndromic"surveillance that detects biothreats with rare or previously unseen symptomology. We introduce a data-driven, automated machine learning approach for presyndromic surveillance that learns newly emerging syndromes from free-text emergency department chief complaints, identifies localized case clusters among subpopulations, and incorporates practitioner feedback to automatically distinguish between relevant and irrelevant clusters, thus providing personalized, actionable decision support. Blinded evaluations by New York City's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene demonstrate that our approach identifies more events of public health interest and achieves a lower false-positive rate compared to a state-of-the-art baseline.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberabm4920
JournalScience Advances
Issue number44
StatePublished - Nov 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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