Epidemic Intelligence Service

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The Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) is a program of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Established in 1951, due to biological warfare concerns arising from the Korean War, it has become a hands-on two-year postgraduate training program in epidemiology, with a focus on field work. It is now run through the CDC's Center for Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services (CSELS), in the Office of Public Health Scientific Services (OPHSS). Persons participating in the program, popularly called "disease detectives", are called "EIS Officers" by the CDC and have been dispatched to investigate possible epidemics, due to both natural and artificial causes, including anthrax, hantavirus, and West Nile virus in the United States and Ebola in Uganda and Zaire. For the duration of their service, EIS officers are assigned to operational branches within the CDC as the result of a highly competitive matching process. EIS service is also a common recruiting pathway into the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.

Since the smallpox crusade beginning in 1967, the CDC has paired an EIS officer and a Public Health Advisor or "PHA" as a scientist (EIS) and operations (PHA) team. These EIS/PHA management teams have made major contribution to the management and leadership of the CDC, with several former EIS officers serving in leadership capacity and closely supported by their deputy manager, the PHA. Together EIS officers and PHAs have worked on several epidemics worldwide.

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Further reading[edit]

  • Beth E. Meyerson, Fred A. Martich and Gerald P. Naehr (2008). Ready to Go: The History and Contributions of U.S. Public Health Advisors. (Research Triangle Park: American Social Health Association).

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