What is EpiScanGIS?

Detecting meningococcal disease outbreaks as early as possible is important in order to minimize the number of infections amongst the population. EpiScanGIS uses a Geographical Information System (GIS) to present maps showing the distribution of all cases of meningococcal disease, that have been registered at the National Reference Centre for Meningococci (NRZM) in Germany. Thus it acts as an information system, that provides you with easy to access and timely information on meningococcal infections in Germany.

EpiScanGIS has been developed at the NRZM in cooperation with the Chair of Computer Science II and the company Ridom GmbH. It from the diploma thesis of Markus Reinhardt held at the Chair of Computer Science II, University of Würzburg.

Monitoring Invasive Meningococcal Disease in Germany

One goal of this interdisciplinary project is, to provide a publicly accessible system for computer-aided epidemiological surveillance of meningococcal disease in Germany.

EpiScanGIS provides you with weekly updated, dynamically generated maps. The underlying database is a result of the consistent work at the NRZM, which, as a national reference laboratory, types the majority of all meningococcal infections in Germany using microbiological methods.

We used several non-commercial software components in this project, that each apart accomplish bits in the overall process:

  • The PostgreSQL object-relational database stores anonymized epidemiological information.
  • PostGIS adds support for geographic objects an queries to PostgreSQL.
  • The UMN Mapserver is responsible for generating maps using the data provided by the database.
  • OpenLaszlo is used to generate a Flash-based Rich Internet Application, that enable intuitive access to epidemiological data.

Early Outbreak Detection

The second component of this online system provides the health community with an early warning cluster detection system.

The resulting reports and maps are not publicly available, but they help registered and authorized public health authorities in spotting possible risk areas and taking preventive measures.

EpiScanGIS uses the Software SaTScan™ for the 'cluster detection' process. The underlying dataset is automatically scanned on a weekly basis to detect potential diseases outbreaks in a timely manner.

SaTScan™ is a trademark of Martin Kulldorff. The SaTScan™ software was developed under the joint auspices of Martin Kulldorff, of the National Cancer Institute and of Farzad Mostashari at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.