During 2012 real-time syndromic surveillance formed a key part of the daily public health surveillance for the London Olympic and Paralympic Games. It was vital that these systems were evaluated prior to the Games; in particular what types and scales of incidents could and could not be detected. Different public health scenarios were created covering a range of potential incidents that the Health Protection Agency would require syndromic surveillance to rapidly detect and monitor. For the scenarios considered it is now possible to determine what is likely to be detectable and how incidents are likely to present using the different syndromic systems. Small localized incidents involving food poisoning are most likely to be detected the next day via emergency department surveillance, while a new strain of influenza is more likely to be detected via GP or telephone helpline surveillance, several weeks after the first seed case is introduced.
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