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AFHSB's health surveillance program supports Defense Department global health engagement efforts

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Joshua Douglass, left, an aerospace medical technician, watches as Liberian health care workers properly put on their personal protective equipment as part response by the Defense Department operation to provide logistics, training and engineering support during the Ebola virus outbreak. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Terrance D. Rhodes) U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Joshua Douglass, left, an aerospace medical technician, watches as Liberian health care workers properly put on their personal protective equipment as part response by the Defense Department operation to provide logistics, training and engineering support during the Ebola virus outbreak. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Terrance D. Rhodes)

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Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Global Emerging Infections Surveillance | Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Surveillance | Febrile and Vector-Borne Infections (FVBI) Surveillance | Enteric Infections (EI) Surveillance | GEIS Partners | Global Health Engagement

Both the U.S. Armed Forces’ operational posture and the emergence and spread of infectious diseases relevant to military operations have evolved in recent decades. Worldwide, people are more mobile and interconnected than ever before. At the same time, land use in the developing world is changing in such a way that long-dormant pathogens have the opportunity to re-emerge and become health problems for a significant proportion of the population again. These conditions threaten not only the health of populations, but also the security and stability of nations around the world.

The Defense Department has long recognized the link between global health and security, and its global health engagement efforts address the intersection of these concerns. Defense Department health agencies are primarily focused on protecting the health of the force and medical readiness, but their global health engagement efforts also address other security priorities for the U.S. government such as helping partner nations build health capacity, combatting global health threats (e.g., emerging infectious diseases and antibiotic-resistant bacteria), and supporting U.S. government humanitarian assistance and disaster relief initiatives.

The Global Emerging Infections Surveillance (GEIS) section of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch (AFHSB) supports global health engagement by leveraging a network of Defense Department laboratory partners that are positioned in critical locations globally and work with partner nations to combat infectious disease threats. Defense Department laboratories around the world execute coordinated, integrated surveillance efforts to detect and respond to febrile and vector-borne infections, respiratory infections, antimicrobial-resistant and sexually transmitted infections, and enteric infections regardless of the source. These efforts are conducted in more than 70 countries and serve to protect the health of a highly mobile force by informing risk assessments and countermeasure development, providing support to outbreak response efforts when they arise, and supporting operational access and freedom of movement in high-threat areas.

In support of the Defense Health Agency’s combat support efforts, the GEIS network’s ultimate goal is early, accurate detection of emerging infectious disease and rapid communication regarding those that potentially threaten the health of U.S. forces so that preventive measures can be taken to enable operational readiness and mitigate the risk of mission failure. Surveillance efforts are conducted in partnership with partner nation ministries of health and defense, thereby improving their health capacity by enabling rapid identification and response to infectious disease threats to their population and strengthening relationships with key U.S. partners. In this way, the GEIS program supports the U.S. geographic combatant commands (GCCs) in their areas of responsibility, advancing their campaign plans, lines of efforts, and end states. Additionally, by providing direct technical support to GCC-led international scientific coalitions and strategic engagement efforts, GEIS enhances Defense Department global health engagements and advances information sharing with partner nations. These activities ultimately better inform force health protection decision making at the GCCs and enable global health security for partner nations and U.S. government assets abroad.

Throughout December, in celebration of the Global Health Engagement Month, AFHSB will showcase some of the surveillance efforts conducted by GEIS’s laboratory partners around the world. These stories are available on DHA’s Global Health Engagement Spotlight page.

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Navy Medicine global health team conducts trauma exchange in Vietnam

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The 13 Navy Medicine members stand together on the first day of the Integrated Trauma and Medical Readiness Exchange engagement in Vietnam. (U.S. Navy photo by Capt. Joel Roos)

Sharing trauma management skills was the focus of this exchange

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Beginning in 2011, the Operational Infectious Diseases (OID) laboratory at the Naval Health Research Center has undertaken routine surveillance of four U.S. military training facilities to systematically track the prevalence of acute gastroenteritis and to establish its etiologies among U.S. military recruits.

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Leptospirosis: The presence of leptospirosis in the Republic of Korea (ROK) poses a potential threat to more than 40,000 U.S. Armed Forces personnel and their family members who reside in the ROK. This is the first published study for risk assessment of leptospirosis among U.S. Army soldiers assigned to the ROK.

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Staphylococcus

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Staphylococcus: Staphylococcus aureus is a major cause of skin and soft tissue infection (SSTI). Military personnel in congregate settings (e.g., training, deployment) are at increased risk for S. aureus colonization and SSTI. For a 7-month period in 2016, an observational cohort study of S. aureus colonization and SSTI among U.S. Navy submariners was ...

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U.S. doctors save Italian patient hours from death

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U.S. Air Force Capt. Melanie Gates, left, Capt. Nick McKenzie, and Capt. Richard Thorsted, all who are Special Operations Command Forward Northwest Africa ground surgical team members, gather for a photo at Nigerien Air Base 101, Niamey. The three doctors recently finished medical school and are serving their first deployment. They are deployed from Travis Air Force Base, California. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)

The patient had a fever, a very high heart rate and low oxygen levels

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Individuals with a history of food-allergy anaphylaxis or a systemic reaction to food do not meet military accession or retention standards and require a waiver in order to serve in the military. First-line treatment for anaphylaxis includes rapid administration of epinephrine.

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USNS Mercy returns home following Pacific Partnership 2018

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Navy Hospital Corpsman Tianna Garcia, assigned to Naval Medical Center San Diego, is greeted by her husband Aaron Garcia during the homecoming ceremony for the hospital ship USNS Mercy. The ship and her crew completed a five-month humanitarian relief mission to Southeast Asia. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Indra Beaufort)

Pacific Partnership 2018 included more than 800 military and civilian personnel from the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and the United Kingdom

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U.S. Navy, JMSDF participate in bilateral training exercise

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The simulated disaster for the training exercise included a Japanese vessel colliding with a U.S. vessel

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Military doctors conduct infectious diseases training in Panama

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Publio Gonzalez, a biologist with the Gorgas Institute, holds a bat in Meteti, Panama. Gonzalez and U.S. military doctors were participating in infectious diseases training, in which they received informational lectures from Panamanian infectious disease experts and field studies of possible virus-carrying wildlife and insects. The event took place during Exercise New Horizons 2018, which is a joint training exercise where U.S. military members conduct training in civil engineer, medical and support services while benefiting the local community. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Dustin Mullen)

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U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class James Bowes, senior preventive-medicine technician, places mosquitoes on a dish to view under a microscope. Project Sea Raven’s capabilities are not limited to just insects – it can test anything from blood to soil and water. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Tom Ouellette)

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Air Force medical team supports exercise in Panama

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Air Force Master Sgt. Emeriles Curry, 346th Expeditionary Medical Operations Squadron dental hygienist, provides dental care to a local man in the Coclé Province of Panama. To date, in 2-weeks’ worth of Medical Readiness Training Exercises, the teams working in conjunction with the Panamanian Ministry of Health, have seen nearly 4,700 patients. The medical team is participating in Exercise New Horizons 2018, which is a joint training exercise focused on medical, civil engineer and support service personnel’s ability to prepare, deploy, operate, and redeploy outside the United States. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Dustin Mullen)

The medical team has been working closely with Panamanian dentists

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