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Global Emerging Infections Surveillance

Map of the world with a description of the GEIS vision and mission. GEIS vision: Enhanced force health protection and national security through support to the Geographic Combatant Commands (GCCs) and a global laboratory network poised to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats. GEIS mission: Inform force health protection decision making and enhance global health security by preventing, detecting, and responding to infectious disease threats through supporting GCC priorities and strengthening surveillance, outbreak response, collaboration, and coordination of the global DoD laboratory network.

The History of GEIS

Department of Defense (DoD) Global Emerging Infections Surveillance (GEIS) was established in 1997 following the release of Presidential Decision Directive, National Science and Technology Council-7, which tasked DoD to improve infectious disease surveillance, prevention, and response. Since that time, GEIS has been a global leader in addressing militarily relevant infectious disease threats and informing force health protection (FHP) decision making. As part of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch (AFHSB), the GEIS section contributes to the protection of DoD healthcare beneficiaries and the global community through an integrated worldwide emerging infectious disease surveillance system.

Disease outbreaks over the past several years — including the emergence and spread of viruses such as Ebola, Influenza H7N9, Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome – Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), and Zika—have demonstrated the relevance of GEIS and its global collaborators.

These disease threats and others continue to challenge global health security of the U.S., its interests, and its allies, including service members deployed across the globe. In August 2015, GEIS strengthened its role as a Combat Support Agency (CSA) in support of the Defense Health Agency's (DHA) mission and provides actionable information for FHP decision making to the six GCCs and other Combatant Commands (CCMDs) as appropriate. Read the GEIS Strategy to learn how the section will support infectious disease surveillance and outbreak response to enhance FHP decision making in the future operating environment.

Picture of the Earth with hexagons highlighting images of the GEIS role in global infectious disease surveillance. Images include MERS-CoV,  MDR Klebsiella pneumoniae with white blood cells, a mosquito, scientists performing lab work, and service members GEIS supports through disease surveillance and force health protection efforts.

GEIS Role in Global Infectious Disease Surveillance

GEIS is striving to meet the DHA Director's Strategic Priorities

The strategic goals of the GEIS Section include:

  • Supporting GCC infectious disease and theater campaign priorities through strengthening surveillance, outbreak response, collaboration, and coordination of the global DoD laboratory network
  • Informing FHP decision and policy making through timely dissemination of surveillance information to key stakeholders
  • Enhancing national and global health security by preventing, detecting, and responding to infectious disease threats
  • Informing DoD and interagency research and development of infectious disease countermeasures such as diagnostic tools, prophylaxes, therapeutics, insecticides, and personal protective equipment

GEIS supports disease surveillance and outbreak response efforts for the DoD, including antimicrobial resistance pathogens like H1N1 influenza virus particles and malarial vector.

GEIS Activities Overview

GEIS supports surveillance and outbreak response efforts in four infectious disease focus areas in concert with GCC priorities: antimicrobial resistant infections (including sexually transmitted infections), enteric infections, febrile and vector-borne infections, and respiratory infections.

The focus of these efforts is rapid detection and advanced characterization of endemic or emerging threats to military forces, including vectors and reservoirs of infectious disease transmission. Supported activities also include the study of clinical and epidemiological characteristics of infectious disease and associated risk factors to provide timely and actionable findings to DoD stakeholders. The Data to Decision Initiative, started in August 2017, formalizes a process for timely and consistent reporting of surveillance information for immediate FHP decision making and longer term analysis.

In FY17, GEIS established a Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) and Bioinformatics (BI) Consortium in order to rapidly detect and characterize known, emerging, and novel infectious disease agents through establishment of a harmonized DoD laboratory capability that uses data from NGS and BI to inform FHP decision making. GEIS partners around the world are either actively engaged in NGS projects or pursuing NGS capabilities. The Consortium brings GEIS partners together to share information on capabilities, standard operating procedures, and expertise, to enhance coordination and collaboration in NGS and its associated BI challenges.

For information about GEIS and its role as a CSA, please view the GEIS Strategy and explore our GEIS focus area pages:

GEIS Focus Areas

GEIS Stakeholders

GEIS provides direct technical support to GCC-led international scientific coalitions and strategic engagement efforts that focus on infectious disease prevention, detection, and response. GEIS funding supports a global network of highly qualified DoD Service laboratories positioned in key locations to provide on-the-ground infectious disease surveillance and outbreak response. GEIS partners have built surveillance networks and relationships with the U.S. interagency and international partners to share important information about circulating infectious disease threats.

For more information on GEIS disease surveillance and significant accomplishments, refer to AFHSB Annual Reports and GEIS Publications.

If you are involved with the DoD medical community and are interested in partnering with GEIS, or if you would like to find out more, please contact GEIS.

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