Public Health
1:46 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

Pittsburgh Company to Provide Public Health Surveillance During Super Bowl XLVIII

A measles outbreak at a past Super Bowl has state officials concerned for the health of guests visiting Northern New Jersey for this year’s matchup. To contain any possible outbreaks, the New Jersey Department of Public Health has enlisted the help of a Pittsburgh company to take a proactive step against any health problems.

Pittsburgh-based Health Monitoring Systems has worked with the New Jersey Department of Public Health since 2008, including during Super Storm Sandy and Hurricane Irene, to track emergency room admissions for possible outbreaks of infectious diseases. Now the company is being asked to prepare its Epicenter system to address the crowds attending Super Bowl XLVIII.

“So we’ve got 500,000 people coming into an area for about a week. They’re in very close quarters and what we can see is a disease moving from one person to another rapidly,” said Kevin Hutchison, CEO and president of Health Monitoring Systems. “So what we’re trying to do is understand if someone comes in from out of town are they carrying something and could that spread to other people.”

A measles outbreak nearly occurred during the 2012 Super Bowl in Indianapolis after an infected fan attended the event. Hutchison said similar health concerns have sparked New Jersey’s proactive approach to the event.

“They want to make sure that if anything could happen they’re able to fix it, so its happened in the past and its something that they want to make sure that they’re on top of,” said Hutchison. 

The system compiles anonymous health care data from local emergency rooms and in-patient centers for trends. The data is then used to detect any significant health concerns. The system has also been updated to specifically monitor patients from other areas — specifically Seattle and Denver — for possible outbreaks.

The system will actively monitor for infectious disease outbreaks as well as injuries caused by the extreme cold during the weekend’s festivities.

Health Monitoring Systems formed in 2006 and is the largest population health surveillance provider in the United States.