Where exactly are we with animal health syndromic surveillance?

Fernanda Dórea’s 2011 paper entitled “Veterinary syndromic surveillance: Current initiatives and potential for development” was not only one of the most highly cited paper in the field, it also marked the advent of a new research field emerging only a few years earlier, and roused considerable interest in the veterinary public health community, with many people, including myself, publishing dozens of papers on the topic in the following 5 years.

I was very honoured to be approached by Fernanda earlier this year to write the follow-up story from her 2011 review paper and assess how the field had progressed since then. Our open-access joint paper has recently come out in the journal Veterinary Medicine: Research and Reports.

I thought long and hard about what the best way of summarising all the advances in the field might be and then I decided that the easiest way to visualise most of the paper’s take-home messages could be through an infographic! Back in June I had played a little bit with infographics using the free online software Piktochart. This time, I decided to trial a new software and used Canva. So, here’s what has happened to the field of animal health syndromic surveillance in the last 5 years:


Producing this infographic was such an interesting exercise, trying to extract the essence of the paper and distill it in a very limited amount of space, and in a way that should be understandable to non-experts. In general, I think that we, researchers, need to make more of an effort to communicate our science/results to as wide an audience as possible. Not only is this some sort of accountability, after all publicly funded research comes out of tax-payers’ pockets whom should be kept informed of how it is spent, but it also helps fellow scientists keep abreast of the development in their wider research field when they have ever less time to sit down and read full papers. I think producing and distributing a nice infographic at the same time as your research paper is published is a nice way to advertise your achievement, grab the attention of the press or social media and potentially bring more readers to your papers. And we all know that more readers mean more citations…

As such, I will start to advertise this service more widely. Help me spread the word!

At Epi-Connect, we are experts in data analysis & visualisation and we can help you write your story. All you need to do is to fill in this contact form , and we’ll take care of the rest!

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