The Health Studies Branch (HSB) provides expertise and leadership in epidemiology to local, state, federal and international partners to help them prepare for and respond to natural and man-made public health disasters. To do this, HSB conducts surveillance, rapid needs assessments, epidemiology studies, and provides training in disaster epidemiology to public health professionals.
NEW! HSB’s guidance about disaster surveillance is now available! A Primer for Understanding the Principles and Practices of Disaster Surveillance in the United States [PDF - 9 MB] provides an introduction to the concepts, principles and process of surveillance during a disaster.
Disaster Epidemiology is defined as the use of epidemiology to assess the short- and long-term adverse health effects of disasters and to predict consequences of future disasters. It brings together various topic areas of epidemiology including acute and communicable disease, environmental health, occupational health, chronic disease, injury, mental health, and behavioral health. Disaster epidemiology provides situational awareness; that is, it provides information that helps us understand what the needs are, plan the response, and gather the appropriate resources.
From the standpoint of public health, a disaster is defined on the basis of its consequences on health and health services. A disaster is a serious disruption of the functioning of society, causing widespread human, material or environmental losses, that exceeds the local capacity to respond, and calls for external assistance. Natural and man-made disasters can occur without warning; preventing them from resulting in major public health emergencies requires careful planning. The Health Studies Branch provides disaster preparedness and response technical assistance, tools, and training.
The Health Studies Branch (HSB) conducts planned research and provides emergency epidemiologic response to assess the acute and chronic health effects from exposure to severe weather such as extreme heat and cold, not directly related to climate change. HSB preparedness activities for heat and cold weather events include having subject matter experts that provide scientific expertise on heat and cold concerns and inquires from CDC, external partners, and the media.
- Page last reviewed: January 13, 2012
- Page last updated: April 18, 2016
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