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The core surveillance tool for GeoSentinel Sites is a single page faxable form submitted to a central data site for each post-travel visit. All patients are included who have visited the clinic post travel and have crossed international boundaries. Patients include tourists, immigrants, refugees, expatriates, students and foreign visitors. Diagnoses are entered either as specific etiologies or as syndromes, and are then linked to geographic locations, reference dates, and clinical presentations. In addition, electronic communication with the larger constituency of GeoSentinel Affiliate Members or of world wide ISTM member clinics is occasionally done to obtain broader data collection in response to specific inquiries. Temporal trends for travel-related infectious diseases are monitored. Month by month baseline data for common travel-related diagnoses in the patient population have now been established. Deviations from established patterns for syndromic diagnoses could herald a novel pathogen. Increased rates for etiologic diagnoses could signal the emergence of new epidemics or new foci of disease.
Sites participate by sending their data to a central data location. A web based data entry system is the single mode of data submission. The data collection system is housed on a secure Internet-based system that is protected by the Secure Data Network (SDN) firewall at CDC. Sites access the system using random numbers generated by portable SecurID devices and a combination of user logins and passwords. The data resides on a SQL Server Database 2000 and the GeoSentinel application runs on an Internet Information Server 5.0 (IIS) web server on a Windows 2000 Server. All sites have the ability to enter or update their patient records online, download their own site-specific data in MS-ACCESS, run canned reports and query their own data in real time.