Evaluation of routinely collected veterinary and human health data for surveillance of human tick-borne diseases in North Carolina
Tick-borne diseases are an important cause of human morbidity in North Carolina. This study evaluated the use of routinely collected veterinary hospital and human hospital emergency department (ED) data for earlier signal detection compared with routine reporting of tick-borne diseases to the North Carolina Division of Public Health in 2006 and 2007. The Early Aberration Reporting System was used to detect the earliest indication of an increase in number of dogs infested with ticks that were brought to veterinary hospitals and in number of people presenting to EDs with a tick-related chief complaint or who had an ED International Classification of Diseases diagnosis code of tick-borne disease. Results indicate that systematic monitoring of veterinary hospital and human ED data can detect increases in tick activity 4 weeks earlier than the current surveillance method, which would facilitate timely initiation of tick prevention and increased clinical awareness among veterinarians and physicians.