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This paper discusses computer-supported outbreak detection using routine surveillance data, as implemented at six institutes for infectious disease control in five European countries. We give an overview of the systems used at the Statens Serum Institut (Denmark), Health Protection Agency (England, Wales and Northern Ireland), Robert Koch Institute (Germany), Governmental Institute of Public Health of Lower Saxony (Germany), National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (the Netherlands) and Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control (Sweden). Despite the usefulness of the algorithms or the outbreak detection procedure itself, all institutes have experienced certain limitations of the systems. The paper therefore concludes with a list of recommendations for institutes planning to introduce computer-supported outbreak detection, based on experiences on the practical usage of the systems. This list - which concerns usability, standard operating procedures and evaluation - might also inspire improvements of systems in use today. .


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