Programs: Biosurveillance


Public health surveillance
is the ongoing, systematic collection, analysis, interpretation, and dissemination of data about a health-related event. It is used in public health action to reduce morbidity and mortality and to improve health.

Enhanced surveillance refers to surveillance activities conducted for the purpose of early detection of public health emergencies using non-traditional data sources and methods.​

Syndromic surveillance (or biosurveillance), is one example of enhanced surveillance. It offers the potential for earlier detection of bioterrorism, outbreaks, and other public health emergencies. This type of surveillance uses electronic records of case definitions based on signs and symptoms a patient presents with in a hospital. These records are provided by hospital emergency rooms, pharmacies, poison control centers, schools, and more.

Epidemiologists in the Office of Preparedness and Response review disease activity for evidence of unusual cases or clusters; investigate natural, intentional, or simulated outbreaks; and respond to natural disasters, weather-related threats, and any other public health emergencies.

Goal: Mitigate and/or reduce morbidity and mortality associated with disease outbreak(s) and/or other public health events.


  • Early identification of intentional or natural emerging infectious disease outbreak(s).
  • Expedient public health threat and risk assessment for situational awareness.
  • Prompt application of public health interventions (Medical Countermeasure​ distribution, social distancing, or public information messaging).

Maryland’s ESSENCE (Electronic Surveillance System for the Early Notification of Community-based Epidemics) program is part of the effort for a prepared and secure Maryland.​​