Incidents of potential public health significance identified using national surveillance of US poison center data (2008–2012)
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Incidents of potential public health significance identified using national surveillance of US poison center data (2008–2012)

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  • English

  • Details:

    • Alternative Title:
      Clin Toxicol (Phila)
    • Description:

      The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Association of Poison Control Centers conduct national surveillance on data collected by US poison centers to identify incidents of potential public health significance (IPHS). The overarching goals of this collaboration are to improve CDC’s national surveillance capacity for public health threats, identify early markers of public health incidents and enhance situational awareness. The National Poison Data System (NPDS) is used as a surveillance system to automatically identify data anomalies.


      To characterize data anomalies and IPHS captured by national surveillance of poison center data over 5 years.


      Data anomalies are identified through three surveillance methodologies: call-volume, clinical effect, and case-based. Anomalies are reviewed by a team of epidemiologists and clinical toxicologists to determine IPHS using standardized criteria. The authors reviewed IPHS identified by these surveillance activities from 2008 through 2012.


      Call-volume surveillance identified 384 IPHS; most were related to gas and fume exposures (n=229; 59.6%) with the most commonly implicated substance being carbon monoxide (CO) (n=92; 22.8%). Clinical-effect surveillance identified 138 IPHS; the majority were related to gas and fume exposures (n=58; 42.0%) and gastrointestinal complaints (n=84; 16.2%), and the most commonly implicated substance was CO (n=20; 14.4%). Among the 11 case-based surveillance definitions, the botulism case definition yielded the highest percentage of identified agent-specific illness.


      A small proportion of data anomalies were designated as IPHS. Of these, CO releases were the most frequently reported IPHS and gastrointestinal syndromes were the most commonly reported illness manifestations. poison center data surveillance may be used as an approach to identify exposures, illnesses, and incidents of importance at the national and state level.

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