An Elite Team of Sleuths, Saving Lives in Obscurity

Excerpted from an article by LAWRENCE K. ALTMAN, M.D.  [ New York Times ( Posted: 04/08/2010 )]

Millions of people know what C.D.C. and F.D.A. stand for. Far fewer recognize E.I.S., though they may owe their lives to it.

The E.I.S. is the Epidemic Intelligence Service, an arm of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its cadre of 160 elite medical detectives — many of them young doctors at the start of their careers — serve two-year hitches that are part adventure, part drudgery.

Since its creation in 1951, the service has become a bulwark in the nation’s defense system against disease, often acting as the public’s emergency room. Its doctors have helped identify Legionnaires’ disease, Lyme disease, and toxic shock syndrome from superabsorbent tampons; stop outbreaks of diphtheria and other diseases before they could spread uncontrollably; discover the deadly Ebola and Lassa viruses; and trace paralyzing cases of polio to defective batches of the Salk vaccine. Other E.I.S. investigations have led the Food and Drug Administration to remove potentially lethal products from the market.

For the complete article: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/06/health/06docs.html?adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1270713660-4PVf1yolczMzDg5Uoj96vA

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~ by Rob on April 6, 2010.

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