Rapid Syndrome Validation

Sandia National Laboratories' Rapid Syndrome Validation Project is a Web-based early warning system designed to detect incoming bioterrorism threats as well as natural disease outbreaks.

The system enables physicians to report clinical information via a touch screen computer. The information is reported in terms of syndromes — such as influenza-like illness or fever with rash — that can indicate bioterrorism infection or a seasonal epidemic. RSVP can analyze the syndrome reports and clinical data against expected baselines. Thus, the system can flag changes that may indicate a bioterrorist attack, according to Sandia officials.

Reports fitting certain disease patterns are dispatched to state public health offices. But RSVP also keeps physicians in the loop, providing a geographic plot of syndrome reports. Alan Zelicoff, a senior scientist at Sandia's Center for National Security and Arms Control, said RSVP's users include the governments of Las Cruces, N.M., San Mateo County, Calif., and Brownsville, Texas. A large deployment is scheduled in Singapore.

Sandia offers the Java-based RSVP for free and will host the software. "Most public health departments don't want to maintain a server," Zelicoff said.

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