Epidemiology and Surveillance

GoalEnhance, develop, and ensure the use of statewide, integrated surveillance systems and epidemiologic capacity for the rapid detection and control of unusual outbreaks of illness that may be the result of bioterrorism, other outbreaks of infectious disease, and other public health threats and emergencies within the LINCS region.

What is Epidemiology?  

A less entertaining, but more conventional, definition of epidemiology is “the study of the distribution and determinants of health-related states in specified populations, and the application of this study to control health problems.” A look at the key words will help illuminate the meaning:

  • Study—Epidemiology is the basic science of public health. It’s a highly quantitative discipline based on principles of statistics and research methodologies.

  • Distribution—Epidemiologists study the distribution of frequencies and patterns of health events within groups in a population. To do this, they use descriptive epidemiology, which characterizes health events in terms of time, place, and person.

  • Determinants—Epidemiologists also attempt to search for causes or factors that are associated with increased risk or probability of disease. This type of epidemiology, where we move from questions of “who,” “what,” “where,” and “when” and start trying to answer “how” and “why,” is referred to as analytical epidemiology.

  • Health-related states—Although infectious diseases were clearly the focus of much of the early epidemiological work, this is no longer true. Epidemiology as it is practiced today is applied to the whole spectrum of health-related events, which includes chronic disease, environmental problems, behavioral problems, and injuries in addition to infectious disease.

  • Populations—One of the most important distinguishing characteristics of epidemiology is that it deals with groups of people rather than with individual patients.

  • Control—Finally, although epidemiology can be used simply as an analytical tool for studying diseases and their determinants, it serves a more active role. Epidemiological data steers public health decision making and aids in developing and evaluating interventions to control and prevent health problems. This is the primary function of applied, or field, epidemiology.


  1. Influenza Surveillance:  The ERHC Epidemiologist receives weekly Influenza reports from schools, nursing homes, and emergency rooms. These data are incorporated into the state’s summary of weekly Influenza reports. http://nj.gov/health/flu/fluinfo.shtml   

    New updated numbers on vaccine effectiveness for 2012-13 season.


  2. Pediatric Influenza Surveillancehttp://nj.gov/health/flu/professionals.shtml
  3. Communicable Disease Surveillance:

       New Jersey Administrative Code 8:57 for the Communicable Diseases: http://nj.gov/health/cd/reporting.shtml

       Case Definitions of the Communicable Diseases:  http://nj.gov/health/cd/find.shtml

       Communicable Disease Forms:  http://nj.gov/health/cd/forms.shtml

       Vaccine Preventable Disease:  http://nj.gov/health/cd/vpdp/index.shtml

      West Nile Virus Surveillance:  http://nj.gov/health/cd/westnile/index.shtml