Surveillance & Epidemiology

The Division of Global Migration and Quarantine

EMS supports the Division of Global Migration & Quarantine (DGMQ) to rapidly expand beyond its normal capabilities to meet the increased demand for professional services, subject matter expertise and medical care required to effectively control public health emergencies. Increasingly mobile populations around the world will continue to increase the introduction of diseases. The emergencies that EMS has addressed  with the DGMQ includes tracking and containing Middle Eastern Respiratory Diseases Syndrome (MERS-CoV), the Ebola outbreak and the spread of Zika virus in North and South America. This critical area of EMS’ support aligns directly with the dimension of DGMQ’s public health mission that addresses preparedness and response as core approaches to drive down the probability that communicable diseases are introduced, transmitted, or spread. 

We are proud of our employees’ steadfast commitment to supporting the DGMQ’s mission during the Ebola Outbreak. This response required the utmost focus and precise execution…  our EMS employees made the commitment to fulfill the CDC mission of eradicating this disease and are prepared to continue this endeavor. – Cheryl Miller,  EMS Senior Program Manager

Digital Disease Detection

The ability to rapidly recognize and respond to both global and local health threats remains a critical public health priority. The ever-growing digital world represents an unprecedented opportunity to develop novel tools that provide solutions capable of mitigating public health emergencies. This digital means of disease detection has been made possible by the growing influence of internet technology, which has significantly changed the landscape of public health surveillance and epidemic intelligence gathering.

The following programs represent part of EMS’ contribution to field of Digital Disease Detection.


The BioMosaic Project was launched in 2011 and is a collaborative effort between the CDC’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, Harvard University and the University of Toronto.

The BioMosaic tool melds complex data from multiple sources together in a visual format. This format greatly enhances CDC Public Health Officials’ ability to view census data, migration patterns and health statuses simultaneously to help identify countries where international travel may give rise to emerging diseases. Using this information, the CDC can direct public health resources where they are needed most.

Mobile Application Development for Chikungunya and Dengue Fever

EMS supports Digital Disease Detection requirements for the DGMQ through the development of a mobile application to enhance surveillance for the spread of Dengue and Chikungunya viral infections in the U.S.-Mexico border region. EMS is providing the technical expertise necessary for rapid development and deployment of a native smartphone application for reporting to HealthMap. In addition to enhancing passive surveillance systems, utilization of this app allows for assessment of the system’s ability to provide early warning of outbreaks of emerging infectious diseases.

Our Dengue and Chikungunya mobile app developers designed the apps to push real-time data.

HealthMap is comprised of a team of researchers, epidemiologists and software developers at Boston Children’s Hospital. Founded in 2006, HealthMap is an established global leader in utilizing online information sources for disease outbreak monitoring and real-time surveillance of emerging public health threats. The freely available website and mobile app “Outbreaks Near Me” deliver real-time intelligence on a broad range of emerging infectious diseases for a diverse audience.

EMS is actively building new partnerships with academia, private industry and federal agencies in our continuing effort to provide the innovative approaches necessary to expand the use of Digital Disease Detection technology. – James Watt, PhD, EMS GM & Chief Scientist

EMS recently attended the Digital Disease Detection Conference (DDD3) in Florence, Italy.  This conference provided a platform to spotlight leaders in the field of DDD and brought together people from many disparate backgrounds and believe in advocating for DDD technology’s transformational properties in Global Health.  It was co-localized with the World Wide Web Conference as DDD technologies are largely dependent on global web communication.


Global Disease Detection

EMS provides senior operational capabilities to the Global Disease Detection Operations Center (GDDOC) within the Division of Global Health Protection (DGHP).  EMS scientists provide guidance to this essential CDC platform that is dedicated to detecting and monitoring global public health events of international importance using event-based surveillance, and also provide a platform enabling CDC teams to respond to global outbreaks.

The GDDOC monitors outbreaks from infectious and non-infectious causes, including public health events attributable to disasters, intoxication, and chemical, radiological or nuclear events, to identify new or unexplained global public health threats and better position CDC to respond. Animal outbreaks of diseases that can be transmitted to humans (zoonotic diseases) are also monitored to assess whether emerging or re-emerging disease outbreaks among humans are occurring. To this end EMS provides senior epidemiological expertise to the GDD Operations Center.  Specific functions include:

  • Global risk- and event-based surveillance
  • Operational and financial support for some of CDC’s international deployments in response to events for which international assistance has been requested
CDC Digital Disease Detection - Infographic

Tephinet & EpiCore

EMS is a contributing member to TEPHINET (Training Programs in Epidemiology and Public Health Interventions Network) and EpiCore. EpiCore relies on the global knowledge of health professionals to verify emerging infectious disease outbreaks using innovative surveillance methods that can identify outbreaks more quickly.  EMS leadership and professional staff are certified members of this organization and are helping shape Epicore’s path towards innovative surveillance strategies that foster dynamic responses to disease outbreaks.  EMS’s contribution to Epicore is another example of our pursuit help build a new Global Digital Disease Detection community capable of rapid response to global public health threats.

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