The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) today issued its first public health alert to local health departments in counties where suspected opioid drug overdose activity has taken place. DHS uses the National Syndromic Surveillance Program BioSense Platform(link is external) to learn about the suspected increase in activity so it can alert affected health departments. This process allows for more timely communication and efficient response to activities in local communities.

“We know that communities respond to the opioid epidemic in ways that fit their individual areas,” said Paul Krupski, DHS Director of Opioid Initiatives. “These alerts will allow them to evaluate the data and decide what immediate steps, if any, should be taken to address the overdose activity.”

Alerts are sent when the data shows a greater number of opioid drug overdoses than would be expected over a seven-day period based on the county or region’s recent opioid overdose activity.

Included in the alert are action steps to be taken by the local health officers, such as sharing the information with partners in hospitals and clinics, and health care providers. The alert also includes links to resources communities can use to address the overdose activity.

The U.S. Congress called on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to launch BioSense in 2003 to support national emergency preparedness. It has expanded to create situational awareness to prepare and respond to all hazards, including drug overdoses.

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