AbstractSurveillance systems utilizing early indicator of disease activity would be useful for monitoring community disease pattern and facilitating timely decision making on public health interventions in an evidence-based manner. We explored the feasibility and practicability of establishing an electronic school absenteeism surveillance system in Hong Kong for monitoring influenza-like illness (ILI) and other emerging diseases, e.g. hand-foot-mouth disease (HFMD), using automatically captured data employing smart card technology. Preliminary data show that ILI-specific absenteeism rates reached their peaks 1-3 weeks ahead of the hospital laboratory surveillance data and HFMD-specific absenteeism rates were in phase with syndromic surveillance system from sentinel practitioners.
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