Korean J Epidemiol.  1997 Jun;19(1):14-21.

Communicable Disease Surveillance System and Sentinel Surveillance

  • 1Department of Preventive Medicine, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea.


Surveillance is the ongoing and systematic collection, analysis of disease related data and dissemination of the information to the people who need it, and application of it to disease prevention and control. So, it is composed of reportable disease; system of data collection, analysis, distribution; coorporation of medical institution with public health organization and effective control. The most dynamic and important part of surveillance is the feedback mechanism. As for positive ways of feedback, there are dissemination of collected and analysed information and reimbursement to the reporters. Legal punishment is the negative way of feedback. The common systems that the developed countries use for communicable disease surveillance are notifiable disease surveillance, sentinel surveillance, and laboratory surveillance systems. Notifiable disease surveillance is for the diseases that their impact is serious to the community when epidemic occurs even though the number of cases is small. Most countries have this type of surveillance, but they suffer from low reporting rate. Sentinel surveillance is for the disease which is mild or whose trend is to be traced for the evaluation of the public health programs. Sampled reporters notifies the disease information voluntarily not by law. Laboratory surveillance is to support the notifiable and sentinel surveillance. It provides laboratory information on the microorganism and antibody level of the disease. Surveillance of communicable diseases in Korea is totally dependent on the notifiable disease reporting system, and there are many problems involved. To improve the surveillance of communicable diseases, it is strongly recommended that the sentinel and laboratory surveillance systems be adopted.


Communicable disease; Notifiable disease; Sentinel surveillance; Laboratory surveillance

MeSH Terms

Communicable Diseases*
Data Collection
Developed Countries
Public Health
Sentinel Surveillance*
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