Emerging Infections Program

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The Emerging Infections Program (EIP) is a network of 10 state health departments using public health practice to address emerging infections. Each site is a collaboration between health departments, academic institutions, and other key public health stakeholders. They conduct surveillance and other public health practice activities to detect, control, and prevent emerging infectious diseases. The network builds on national surveillance and notifiable disease reporting by collecting more extensive data on disease characteristics and risk factors to directly inform the most critical questions that can inform public health action. The EIP network uses an active, population-based approach, which uses a representative subset of the nation to explore disease patterns and their causes in a way that would be impractical or too costly if implemented over the entire nation.

For example, EIP sites conduct active disease surveillance for infectious diseases by investigating laboratory results and medical records data for variables not collected through standardized reporting, such as underlying medical conditions, clinical course, outcomes, and vaccination status.

EIP sites rely on robust and integrated data reporting and sharing systems. These will be strengthened through CDC investments in data modernization capabilities, which includes prioritizing interoperability between data reporting systems and using automated data abstraction techniques to collect data faster.

EIP sites also investigate causes of infectious disease outbreaks, evaluate effectiveness of interventions, and promote prevention. EIP can also be leveraged in emergencies to rapidly scale up surveillance of emerging infectious diseases and inform quick decision making. During the COVID-19 pandemic, EIP sites collaborated to collect extensive data on hospitalized patients—including those first affected—that enhanced our understanding of the epidemiology of the disease among adults and children, described differences in hospitalization rates of vaccinated and unvaccinated people, and informed recommendations of strategies to prevent infection.

EIP’s Impact

The EIP network’s unique strength and contributions lie in its ability to quickly translate surveillance, research, and non-research activities into informed policy and public health practice. EIP work has been instrumental in:

  • providing timely assessments for disease severity and national disease burden estimates for respiratory viral diseases, including COVID-19, influenza, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV),
  • evaluating post-licensure efficacy of the 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine,
  • evaluating and honing strategies for preventing severe disease in newborns caused by Group B Streptococcus,
  • determining the burden of foodborne illnesses in the United States and monitoring trends in enteric (intestinal) pathogens over time,
  • providing estimates of SARS-CoV-2‒ and influenza‒associated hospitalizations that are needed to inform public health policy and to characterize hospitalized cases to investigate vaccine impact, and
  • Defining the national burden of healthcare-associated infections in hospitals and identifying priorities for surveillance and prevention