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Skip Navigation LinksPennsylvania Department of Health > Your Dept of Health > Offices and Bureaus > Epidemiology

bureau of epidemiology


Epidemiology is the study of disease patterns and outbreaks.  The Bureau of Epidemiology collects data on diseases affecting persons in the commonwealth including numbers of diseases, causes of diseases and locations of diseases.  The bureau also advises on health issues, rules and regulations affecting citizens. The Bureau of Epidemiology also identifies and investigates disease outbreaks, in order to prevent additional cases and collect information that may help prevent future outbreaks.  It also provides consultation to the Department of Health and the Pennsylvania medical community on issues related to public health. The bureau also addresses health concerns where environmental exposure maybe the cause. The bureau maintains a listing of 74 reportable diseases which are tracked directly from all counties as well as through the PA_NEDSS electronic reporting system.
Division of Infectious Disease Epidemiology

The Division of Infectious Disease Epidemiology (IDE) conducts surveillance and investigates diseases/outbreaks of infectious disease-related issues. IDE also provides subject matter expertise to local health departments, physicians, veterinarians, and the general public. Topics of special interest include arbovirus, influenza, hepatitis, rabies and HIV Surveillance

  • Influenza is an infection that can be transmitted in the community and causes community epidemics annually with the potential to develop pandemics. Influenza can be prevented by the seasonal influenza vaccine. The Bureau of Epidemiology conducts influenza surveillance year-round through several data sources. A weekly report is published on the State influenza website during the influenza season, which usually starts in October and lasts as late as May.
  • Arboviral infections are caused by any number of viruses transmitted by arthropods such as mosquitoes and ticks. These infections generally occur during warm weather months, when mosquitoes and ticks are active. Some examples of arboviruses include Eastern Equine encephalitis virus, St. Louis encephalitis virus, Powassan virus, West Nile virus and Zika.  virus
  • Hepatitis C is a chronic liver infection that is acquired through infected blood or blood products. The Bureau of Epidemiology conducts surveillance to monitor the number of infections reported to the Pennsylvania Department of Health to direct a broad spectrum of preventive efforts. Surveillance and prevention are implemented through the Viral Hepatitis Prevention Coordinator Program.
  • The HIV Surveillance and Epidemiology program conducts ongoing systematic measurement and evaluation of the occurrence of HIV/AIDS across Pennsylvania, and monitor the rate of HIV infection and other associated diseases characteristics over time by risk groups, population demographics, and geographic subgroups. The program conducts analyses of HIV surveillance data in response to community and public end-user requests, and disseminate HIV surveillance/statistical reports across the state.
  • The PA Health Alert Network or HAN serves as a communication network among state and local public health agencies, health care providers, hospitals and emergency management officials. Please check the website often for the most up-to-date information.
  • Syndromic Surveillance is a public health practice in which de-identified,pre-diagnostic data are collected and analyzed in a timely manner to detect outbreaks and promote situational awareness.  The Pennsylvania Department of Health utilizes a proprietary syndromic surveillance system called EpiCenter™ and also submits data to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Syndromic Surveillance Program.

Division of Community Epidemiology
and Chronic Disease Epidemiology
 
The Division of Community Epidemiology supports the Department of Health’s public health goal of “preventing and controlling chronic diseases and conditions” such as heart disease, cancers, stroke,  diabetes, and injuries or those diseases outside the responsibility of infectious disease programs. The Division is responsible for the analyses, and interpretation of health data related to chronic diseases in the population. The Division also provides these services: 
  • Utilizes and/or creates surveillance systems
  • Develops studies, questionnaires and forms for prevention programs
  • Evaluates prevention programs
  • Measures risk factors and evaluates their effect on morbidity
  • Conducts special studies                  
  • Creates special reports on risk and the disease burden in the Commonwealth
Division of Environmental Health Epidemiology   
Environmental health examines how different environments affect a person’s well-being.

The health effects related to variations of air quality or water quality, for example, are researched in specific locations where there may be cause for concern. Department of Health environmental health staff members work closely with federal, state, county, local officials and the public on a regular basis to help address environmental health issues and concerns. See the website to learn how to file an environmental health concern. Fact sheets on environmental topics are available.

  • The Health Tracking Section provides information from a statewide network of environmental and health data to citizens and health professionals with the goal of promoting the health of all Pennsylvanians.
  • The Health Assessment Section does investigations and reports on hazardous waste sites throughout the Commonwealth. It also handles environmental health concerns regarding air quality, water quality, and the oil and natural gas industry.