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For example, during a common cold epidemic, do doctors get reported beforehand that there is a trend going on so that they can use this information to suspect diagnosis? Does every health care unit have a special website where physicians log on to, to see these disease trends?

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In the United States, state and county public health departments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conduct “surveillance” for a large number of infectious diseases. In the “flu season,” the public health departments present up-to-date data on trends in influenza and “influenza-like illness”

Here, as an example, is a report about influenza in Arizona comparing the 2020-2021 influenza season (up to the date of the report, which was February 6, 2021 when accessed) and the five-year average data for the same date.

https://www.azdhs.gov/preparedness/epidemiology-disease-control/flu/index.php#surveillance-influenza-season

Data are also presented on emergence department (ED) visits and hospitalizations for “influenza-like illness.”

Virtually all other states have similar almost “real-time” data for influenza and influenza-like illness.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also conducts near “real-time” surveillance of trends (by date) for (non-COVID-19) coronaviruses, human parainfluenza virus, respiratory adenovirus, respiratory syncytial virus, and human metapneumovirus.

The data are readily available at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.

https://www.cdc.gov/surveillance/nrevss/hmpv/natl-trend.html

They are published periodically in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, which has a wide distribution to physicians.

While the data are readily available to physicians (and others), there is no systematic “push” of the data to physician offices and practices.

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  • Thank you for your beautiful answer. So physicians do/can resort to these data to help in their differential diagnoses?
    – Mhkhm
    Feb 16 at 18:42
  • @Mhkhm Yes the data at these sites is readily accessible to physicians and the public. Physicians who understand the notion of 'prior probability' could/should use this kind of information to help in diagnosis and differential diagnosis. Feb 16 at 22:39
  • Can you help clarify if you may, say there is a disease be it a flu circulating around a county, and patients who have visited certains health care units have had tests run on them by their doctors, they were diagnosed and treated accordingly. Those doctors and Labs reported to their local health departments. Then those health departments observed and detected a flu outbreak. After analysis they would then give feedback to all health care units within that county of a circulating disease
    – Mhkhm
    Feb 19 at 5:01
  • Continued.For e.g doctors in health care units who had no patients come in before with such symptoms, would they now use this data to suspect disease or at least rule it out? They have foreknowledge now of a circulating disease. Is my understanding correct?
    – Mhkhm
    Feb 19 at 5:01
  • @Mhkhm Your understanding is correct. Feb 19 at 16:26

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