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Welcome to TARRANT

Influenza surveillance remains a priority at the local, provincial, national and international levels, with new value brought to surveillance systems after the 2009 H1N1 Swine Influenza pandemic.

Our goal is to detect influenza-like illness clinically as it occurs in the community and to measure influenza virologically in the lab. Data is collected by volunteer physicians and nurse practitioners, and is compiled by Tarrant Viral Watch prior to being forwarded to Alberta Health and Wellness, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and ultimately the World Health Organization. This contributes to the provincial, Canadian and global picture of influenza activity, and helps us to detect epidemics and pandemics.

Our program name is in honour of Dr. Michael Tarrant, whose years of dedication before his death in June 2003 ensured that Alberta had one of the best community sentinel practice programs in the world.

Due to the dedication of our sentinels, Alberta remains a major contributor to national influenza surveillance and vaccine effectiveness research, thus giving Alberta a stronger presence in national pandemic planning and surveillance initiatives.

We hope that you will consider joining our program to be part of a network that has been running for over 25 years.

Jim Dickinson
TARRANT Program Director

 

Goals of TARRANT Viral Watch:
1. To detect ILI clinically as it occurs in the community and to measure influenza virologically in the lab.

Data is collected by volunteer sentinel sites and is compiled by TARRANT Viral Watch prior to being forwarded to Alberta Health and Wellness, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and ultimately the World Health Organization.

2. To measure the incidence and distribution of childhood gastroenteritis in the communities of Alberta

We have received funding and ethics approval. We are in the process of conducting the pilot study. 

 

A brief history of TARRANT

• 1975 - Recording of Influenza-like Illness (ILI) began in Alberta. Sentinels were part of the National Research System (NaReS) and reported individually to the national network.

• 1979 - The provincial Viral Watch program was formed. Its purpose was to perform syndromic surveillance in Alberta; using doctor-reported signs and symptoms of influenza in the community as an early warning system for influenza outbreaks

• 1983 - The program evolved to include the collection of specimens from patients with ILI for virologic confirmation in the laboratory. This unique feature of Viral Watch allowed the program to go beyond monitoring influenza symptoms to actual verification of disease presence.

• 2003 - Following the death of Dr. Michael Tarrant, the driving force behind Viral Watch, the program was renamed TARRANT (The Alberta Recording and ReseArch NeTwork) in his honour. 

• 2006 – TARRANT began a long-term collaboration with the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control using sentinel surveillance data to evaluate vaccine effectiveness.

• 2009 - The program is now known as TARRANT Viral Watch, paying homage not only to the past contributions of Dr. Tarrant but also looking towards the future evolution of the network. Although our primary focus is influenza, we now monitor a variety of other respiratory viruses and will likely expand our surveillance even further in upcoming seasons.

• 2014 - TARRANT Viral Watch expanded its sentinel network to surveillance childhood gastroenteritis through the Community Pediatric Gastroenteritis Surveillance (CPGS) study. The goal of the CPGS study is to first to establish community-based surveillance of childhood gastroenteritis in Alberta. In future, this sentinel network will be used to test the effectiveness of rotavirus vaccinations.