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Epidemiology

Epidemiology is the central science of public health. As such, epidemiology provides the scientific input that shapes public health policy, program directions, and activities.  The Georgia Department of Public Health Epidemiology Section conducts surveillance for the occurrence of diseases and other health conditions that affect Georgians. By determining the who, what, where, when, how, and why related to these diseases and health conditions, appropriate interventions and control measures can be implemented to lessen their health impact.  When an outbreak occurs, immediate action may be needed to prevent or control a situation.  In the case of chronic diseases or injuries, more sustained activities may be required to prevent their occurrence or reduce their severity.

The Epidemiology Section carries out a number of activities to identify diseases and describe health conditions, assess the health of Georgians, and develop recommendations to control diseases and improve the overall health status in the state.  These include:

  • Conduct active and passive surveillance to detect diseases and adverse health conditions
  • Investigate reports of acute diseases and outbreaks
  • Recommend appropriate prevention measures, treatment, and control
  • Monitor  and investigate reports of unusual health conditions
  • Conduct data analyses and disseminate information from surveillance systems,
  • Provide guidance for healthcare professionals, facilities, and other agencies and organizations regarding disease prevention and control
  • Respond to disease-related inquiries from residents, healthcare providers, and others

The Epidemiology Section works closely with the Georgia Public Health Laboratory, the Environmental Health Section, and many of the Department’s prevention programs, as well as with District Epidemiologists in each of the 18 local District Health Offices.  The District Epidemiologists function as front-line disease detectives working with their local communities to investigate outbreaks and provide assistance to prevent and control the spread of disease.  The Epidemiology Section serves as Georgia’s epidemiology liaison to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Major areas in which the Epidemiology Section conducts activities are:

Disease reporting is the foundation of public health surveillance. Surveillance relies on notifiable disease reporting, the reporting of cases of specific diseases required by Georgia law.  Reporting of many diseases is done through our web-based electronic disease reporting system, SendSS (State Electronic Notifiable Disease Surveillance System).  Some reports are obtained directly from laboratories that perform testing, other reports are submitted by healthcare providers, or obtained by public health staff.  In addition, we conduct several surveys that provide information about health behaviors.  We develop and maintain a number of surveillance systems, including:


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