CDC’s Annual Gathering of Disease Detectives Showcases Findings from the Front Lines of Public Health

CDC will hold its annual Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) Conference May 2-5, 2022, via a virtual platform that is free and open to the public. This conference highlights CDC’s disease detectives’ outbreak investigations, innovative analyses, and unity in service.

“The Epidemic Intelligence Service is one of our most import pathways to develop the public health leaders of tomorrow,” said CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH. “These dedicated, tireless and impeccably trained professionals stand ready to deploy at a moment’s notice to investigate whenever and wherever a public health threat arises.”

Dr. Walensky will open the conference with remarks on Monday morning, May 2. On Wednesday, May 4, Mary Bassett, MD, MPH, the 17th Health Commissioner of the New York State Department of Health will deliver this year’s Alexander D. Langmuir lecture, Undoing the Racial Patterning of Health.

CDC’s EIS disease detectives and their laboratory counterparts from the Laboratory Leadership Service (LLS) have been essential to CDC’s COVID-19 response while continuing critical work to address other important public health threats. Examples of some of their work that will be presented at this year’s conference include:

  • Childhood blood lead testing in Chicago before the COVID-19 pandemic, during a peak surge, and in recent months—Blood lead level (BLL) screening is an essential activity of pediatric primary care, as early childhood lead exposure can cause serious harm, but disruption in primary care was reported during the COVID-19 pandemic onset. Across Chicago’s 77 community areas, BLL testing dropped an average of 33% at the onset of the pandemic (March-September 2020) compared with the same months in 2017-2019. Although testing volume has increased in recent months, it remains an average of 21% lower than pre-pandemic, which means children in Chicago are at increased risk for undetected elevated BLLs.
  • Homicides of Black males across the lifespan—In 2019, homicide was the 15th leading cause of death among all males, but 5th among Non-Hispanic Black males. During 2003–2019, CDC’s National Violent Death Reporting System captured 50,803 homicides among Black males. Homicides of Black males most often occurred among victims aged 18–34 years, in community settings, and resulted from firearm injuries. Child homicides were most often the result of child abuse and neglect. Homicide circumstances across the lifespan can inform strategies that address proximal risks and the underlying structural (e.g., income, education, and employment) inequities and racism experienced by Black males.
  • Strong father-child relationships moderate the association between adverse childhood experiences and HIV acquisition risk among young women in Namibia—Exposure to violence and other adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are associated with increased HIV acquisition risk among young women in high HIV-incidence sub-Saharan African countries. Among young women in Namibia, 26% have experienced three or more ACEs. Among women without strong father-child relationships, experiencing three or more ACEs was positively associated with not knowing a partner’s HIV status in the past year, infrequently using condoms in the past year, and ever having an STI. Conversely, among women with strong father-child relationships, experiencing three or more ACEs was either not significantly, or inversely, associated with these three HIV risk factors. These findings indicate that strong father-child relationships may mitigate the effect of childhood adversity on HIV risk among young women in Namibia.
  • Health outcomes after hospital discharge and response to COVID-19 vaccination in children with a history of multisystem inflammatory syndrome—Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) is a rare but serious condition following SARS-CoV-2 infection. As of March 28, 2022, 7,880 MIS-C cases were reported to CDC national surveillance. A follow-up study was conducted on children under 21 years old who were hospitalized with MIS-C at three children’s hospitals from March 2020–February 2021. Preliminary results indicate that about two-thirds of children with MIS-C had recovered physical and mental health by the follow-up interview (an average of 12 months post-discharge). None of the 12 children in the study who were vaccinated after MIS-C reported an adverse event requiring medical attention.
  • Elevated respirable crystalline silica exposure among engineered stone fabrication workers in California—Silicosis is an irreversible occupational lung disease that is preventable by controlling exposure to respirable crystalline silica (RCS). Recent studies have reported high prevalence of silicosis among workers fabricating engineered stone, a material with high silica content. Personal air sampling results for 152 employees at 47 engineered stone fabrication worksites throughout California in 2019 and 2020 found that 38 employees (25%) had RCS exposures above the permissible exposure limit (PEL). Thirty-four (72%) of the worksites were cited for one or more Cal/OSHA RCS regulation violations, most commonly for failure to perform exposure assessment, communicate RCS hazards to employees, or perform employee medical surveillance.

Media resources are available at: . These resources include searchable outlines of all of the work that will be presented at the conference, as well as photos of the disease detectives working in the field. Members of the media who are interested in attending the conference must register at Registration will remain open throughout the conference.


CDC works 24/7 protecting America’s health, safety and security. Whether disease start at home or abroad, are curable or preventable, chronic or acute, or from human activity or deliberate attack, CDC responds to America’s most pressing health threats. CDC is headquartered in Atlanta and has experts located throughout the United States and the world.

Advertisement: Download Vital Signs App (VS App)