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Volume 21, Number 9—September 2015
Etymologia

Etymologia: Surveillance

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Surveillance [sər-vālʹəns]

From the French surveiller, “to watch over,” public health surveillance has its roots in 14th-century Europe. In an early form of surveillance, in approximately 1348, the Venetian Republic appointed guardians of public health to detect and exclude ships that carried plague-infected passengers. In 1662, English demographer John Graunt analyzed the mortality rolls in London and described a system to warn of the onset and spread of plague. Until the 1950s, “surveillance” referred to monitoring a person exposed to a disease; the current concept of surveillance as monitoring disease occurrence in populations was promoted by Alexander Langmuir of the Communicable Diseases Center (now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

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References

  1. Declich  S, Carter  AO. Public health surveillance: historical origins, methods and evaluation. Bull World Health Organ. 1994;72:285304 .PubMed
  2. Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary. 32nd ed. Philadelphia: Elsevier Saunders; 2012.

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Cite This Article

DOI: 10.3201/eid2109.et2109

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Table of Contents – Volume 21, Number 9—September 2015

Page created: August 12, 2015
Page updated: August 12, 2015
Page reviewed: August 12, 2015
The conclusions, findings, and opinions expressed by authors contributing to this journal do not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the authors' affiliated institutions. Use of trade names is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by any of the groups named above.
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