Stopping Outbreaks at Their Source: Epidemic Intelligence Disease Detectives

Ever wondered who are the first people sent out to investigate when a disease outbreak occurs? Enter the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) officers.

EIS officers are boots-on-the-ground “disease detectives” who investigate outbreaks and work on a variety of essential long-term and emergency response health challenges here in the United States and globally. Their detective work has protected and saved lives for more than 65 years.

Caitlin Cossaboom is an EIS officer who recently shared her experience in a Great Big Story video [right]. Caitlin’s first outbreak was an anthrax investigation in wildlife in Namibia. More recently, she was deployed to Saint Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands to investigate leptospirosis, a bacterial disease that made its first appearance in the territory following the category five hurricanes of 2017.

This week, the 68th annual EIS conference is taking place in Atlanta. At the conference, EIS officers, CDC staff and others have the opportunity to present their research, discuss the findings and take part in professional networking. With more than 1,000 attendees each year, current and prospective future EIS officers come to learn and network with others in their field as well as recruit new officers.

The CDC Foundation is proud to manage the Epidemic Intelligence Service Alumni Association (EISAA), whose mission is to foster and sustain a sense of collegiality among its members and to promote the welfare of the EIS Program. In recent years, the EISAA has revitalized to strengthen its membership base, enhance networking and alumni communications and support the EIS program’s role as the premier public health training program in the world.

We are proud to support these disease detectives and their lifesaving work, and we encourage you to learn more about them on CDC's website.



Diana Robelotto is the director of alumni affairs for the CDC Foundation.