How Epi-X Works
When users log on to the Epi-X website, they see brief summaries of reports of outbreaks, and through Epi-X Forum can participate in discussions of ongoing health events or other subjects of interest. Users can describe a new health event in their jurisdiction by submitting a report. Any other Epi-X user can then comment on posted reports or add to standing Epi-X Forum discussions when they have questions, identify related cases, or wish to contribute insights.
Public health officials across the United States have come to depend on Epi-X because of its secure website, discussion forums, user directory, and emergency notification capabilities. Eddy Bresnitz, MD, MS, former president of the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE), recognized the contribution of Epi-X in his 2008 CSTE conference plenary address. He stated that he “counts Epi-X as a major accomplishment towards enhancing disease investigations.”
The success of Epi-X depends largely on three guiding principles: building community, being prepared, and responding to user needs. Epi-X does this by:
- Secure reporting of health events
- Epi-X reports
- Secure discussions
- Epi-X Forum
- Comments on Epi-X reports
- Notification and alerting
- Secure user contact information (Epi-X Directory)
Build a Community
Epi-X has 6,038 users, approximately 35 percent are from state government, 35 percent are from local government, and 20 percent are from CDC.
Public health officials across many disciplines and in various agencies are invited to join Epi-X. To recruit users, Epi-X partners with:
AAPCC – American Association of Poison Control Centers
APHL – Association of Public Health Laboratories
ASTHO – Association of State and Territorial Health Officials
CSTE – Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists
NACCHO – National Association of City and County Health Officials
NASPHV – National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians
Persons with public health responsibilities in other federal agencies are also recruited, including those from Department of Defense, Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration, Health and Human Services, United States Department of Agriculture, and Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Representatives from partner organizations and agencies convene annually at the Epi-X editorial board meeting. At this meeting, they discuss what has worked in the past and possible courses to follow in upcoming years. In addition, participants discuss proposals to add user groups or new types of content.
One such proposal, to add more local users, was brought before the board in 2002. The board supported the proposal, but recommended that Epi-X be able to target report access and notification to subsets of users before adding any large groups of new users. (Until that time, every user could search for and view most reports posted on Epi-X). The targeting function was added in 2003 and local users from NACCHO were then actively recruited.
Fun fact: Epi-X has 6,038 users, approximately 35 percent are from state government, 35 percent are from local government, and 20 percent are from CDC.
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