New York City regularly monitors and responds to disease outbreaks and biological events. The City's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has a state-of-the-art, 24/7 system for monitoring disease patterns. The "syndromic surveillance" system involves routinely tracking emergency room visits, ambulance runs and pharmacy sales to provide an early warning signal of a possible outbreak. It is one of the first in the nation and is a model for the rest of the country.
In addition to naturally occurring disease outbreaks, certain biological agents may be used by terrorists to cause illness or death. These agents include microbes, such as bacteria or viruses, or toxins derived from plants or animals.
In the event of a health emergency, the City may open Points of Dispensing (PODs), which are special clinics to distribute antibiotics or vaccines. If PODs are activated, you may locate the one closest to you by listening to local media, call 311 (TTY: 212-504-4115), visit 311 online or accessing NYC.gov.
IN THE EVENT OF A HEALTH EMERGENCY
- Cover coughs and sneezes.
- Stay home if experiencing cough or fever.
- Frequently wash hands with soap or an alcohol-based cleaner.
- Tune in to local TV and radio for health officials' announcements.