CDC system will share data with states

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is ready to roll out the initial version of its National Electronic Disease Surveillance System, which will link the Atlanta-based agency with state public health departments.

"The system now is in the beginning phase of deployment to 20 states," CIO James D. Seligman said today at an e-government conference in Washington on homeland security.

NEDSS is an application developed by CDC to enable real-time data sharing over existing network connections. It includes standards and specifications with which states can create their own interoperable applications.

Several states are using NEDSS standards to develop or expand existing systems, Seligman said.

CDC received funding for NEDSS in 1999, and last year's anthrax attacks underscored the need for the system, said CDC director Julie L. Gerberding.

Twelve letters laced with anthrax spores infected 22 people, killing five.

"People needed more information than we could possibly have anticipated," Gerberding said. "We are experiencing a major leap forward in our ability to deal with electronic lab reports.”

CDC set up its largest emergency operations center in an auditorium from which 150 people directed the response to last year's attacks. That experience showed the need for a formal center to deal with emergencies, Seligman said.

"We're a month away from cutting the ribbon on a new, state-of-the-art operations center at CDC," he said.


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