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.
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" 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. 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.
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
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.
- Alexander Langmuir, creator.
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- Thacker, S B; Goodman R A; Dicker R C (1990). "Training and service in public health practice, 1951-90--CDC's Epidemic Intelligence Service". Public Health Reports 105 (6): 599–604. PMC 1580174. PMID 2175439.
- Meyerson, B.E.; Martich F.A.; Naehr G.P. (2008). Ready to Go: The History and Contributions of U.S. Public Health Advisors. Research Triangle Park: American Social Health Association.
- Langmuir, A D (1980). "The Epidemic Intelligence Service of the Center for Disease Control". Public Health Reports 95 (5): 470–7. PMC 1422746. PMID 6106957.
- LANGMUIR, A D; ANDREWS J M (March 1952). "Biological warfare defense. 2. The Epidemic Intelligence Service of the Communicable Disease Center". American journal of public health and the nation's health 42 (3): 235–8. doi:10.2105/AJPH.42.3.235. PMC 1526024. PMID 14903237.
- 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).