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Infectious Disease Epidemiology Program

Influenza Sentinel Provider Surveillance

What is the Outpatient Influenza-like Illness Surveillance Network?

Arizona participates in the U.S. Outpatient Influenza-like Illness Surveillance Network (ILINet), in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state and local health departments, and providers across the country. ILINet consists of more than 3,000 healthcare providers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands reporting over 25 million patient visits each year. Data provided by the sentinel providers are combined with other surveillance data in order to describe the national and regional activity of influenza and influenza-like illnesses.

Over 60 Arizona providers are enrolled for the current influenza season, but more sites are always welcome. New sites can join at any time during the year.

What does a sentinel provider do?

Sentinel providers report the total number of patient visits to their facilities each week and the number of visits for influenza-like illnesses by age group (0-4 years, 5-24 years, 25-49 years, 50-64 years, =65 years). These data are transmitted to the CDC by internet or fax. Most physicians report that it takes them less than 30 minutes a week to compile and report their data. Additionally, sentinel physicians can submit specimens to the state laboratory for influenza virus isolation on a subset of patients, free of charge.

Who can be a sentinel provider?

Providers of any specialty (e.g., family practice, internal medicine, pediatrics, infectious diseases) in any type of practice (e.g., private practice, public health clinic, urgent care center, emergency room, university student health center) are eligible to be sentinel providers.

Why volunteer?

Influenza viruses are constantly evolving and cause substantial morbidity and mortality (more than 25,000 deaths) every year. Data from sentinel providers are critical for monitoring the impact of influenza and, in combination with other influenza surveillance data, can be used to guide prevention and control activities, vaccine strain selection, and patient care. Sentinel providers receive feedback on the data submitted, summaries of regional and national influenza data, and a free subscription to CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report and Emerging Infectious Diseases journal. The most important consideration is that the data provided are critical for protecting the public's health.

For more information on the Outpatient Influenza-like Illness Surveillance Network, or if you are interested in becoming a sentinel provider, please contact your local health department or the Arizona Department of Health Services at (602) 364-3676.