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 the prototype for Field Epidemiology Training Programs (FETP), which can now be found in numerous countries, reflecting the example set by this training model and the technical assistance provided by CDC in helping to set them up.[1]

The EIS program 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" (or EIS fellows) 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. EIS officers have to complete a 1-month training at the CDC headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia; however, 95% of their 2-year term consists of experiential rather than classroom training.[2] 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 establishment of the EIS in 1951, over 3,000 EIS officers have been involved in response efforts in the US and worldwide. EIS officers have been involved in efforts in the 2014 Ebola crisis as well.[3]

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.

History of EIS Responses[edit]

Since the inception of the Epidemic Intelligence service, officials have been involved with treatment, eradication, and disease control efforts related to a variety of medically-related crises. Below is an abridge timeline of their work.[4]

1950s: The EIS worked on polio, lead poisoning, and Asian influenza.

1960s: Cancer clusters, and smallpox.

1970s: Legionnaires' disease, Ebola, and Reye syndrome.

1980s: Toxic shock syndrome, birth defects, and HIV/AIDS.

1990s: Tobacco, West Nile virus, and contaminated water.

2000s: E. coli O157:H7, SARS, H1N1, and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

2010s: The aftermath of the Haiti earthquake, obesity, fungal meningitis, and Ebola.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ White, Mark; Sharon M. McDonnell; Denise H.Werker; Victor M. Cardenas; Stephen B. Thacker (2001). "Partnerships in International Applied Epidemiology Training and Service,". American Journal of Epidemiology 154 (11): 993–999. doi:10.1093/aje/154.11.993.
  2. ^ http://www.cdc.gov/EIS/FAQ.html
  3. ^ http://www.cdc.gov/EIS/index.html
  4. ^ http://www.cdc.gov/EIS/Recruitment.html

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).

External links[edit]