Back to Top Skip to main content

How DHA monitors the spread of health outbreaks

The Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch (AFHSB) is the central epidemiologic resource for the U.S. Armed Forces, conducting medical surveillance to protect those who serve our nation in uniform and allies who are critical to our national security interests. AFHSB provides timely, relevant, actionable and comprehensive health surveillance information to promote, maintain, and enhance the health of military and military-associated populations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nathan Lipscomb) The Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch (AFHSB) is the central epidemiologic resource for the U.S. Armed Forces, conducting medical surveillance to protect those who serve our nation in uniform and allies who are critical to our national security interests. AFHSB provides timely, relevant, actionable and comprehensive health surveillance information to promote, maintain, and enhance the health of military and military-associated populations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nathan Lipscomb)

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Public Health | Coronavirus | Coronavirus

The Defense Health Agency works as a combat support agency to the military services and Military Health System with epidemiology data that improves the health and readiness of all service members and their beneficiaries.

Here’s how the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch is supporting the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

How We Monitor

COVID-19 is a reportable medical event (RME) in the military. RMEs are medical conditions, such as measles, which when found in individuals, potentially impact larger groups of people. The tri-service reporting system for RMEs is the Disease Reporting System internet (DRSi). The Alert and Response Ops group within the Integrated Biosurveillance section of the AFHSB at DHA tracks and reports information about COVID-19 from DRSi daily.

AFHSB also conducts daily surveillance using the Electronic Surveillance System for the Early Notification of Community-based Epidemics (ESSENCE). The ESSENCE team developed a dashboard that monitors information from the electronic medical record to detect clinical activity suspicious or diagnostic of COVID-19 in beneficiary populations at all military treatment facilities. It also alerts public health professionals about potential disease outbreaks and epidemics so appropriate countermeasures can be taken.

“The COVID-19 time-series graphs from ESSENCE are shared by combatant commands through the Joint Staff,” said Juan Ubiera, Chief, Integrated Biosurveillance. “AFHSB has also created a mailbox for questions related to the COVID-19 dashboard.”

The division’s Epidemiology and Analysis (E&A) section uses the Defense Medical Surveillance System to analyze medical encounter and other health care data, including data from outsourced care, to track disease trends. This allows E&A to produce regular reports, such as the weekly DoD Consolidated Influenza Surveillance Report.

“We are reviewing guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization to determine the feasibility and value of producing a weekly COVID-19 report that will add to the reports produced by the Integrated Biosurveillance team in the unlikely event that COVID-19 becomes widespread,” said Navy Cmdr. (Dr.) Shawn Clausen, AFHSB’s Epidemiology and Analysis Chief.

COVID-19 Lab Testing Kits

AFHSB Global Emerging Infections Surveillance (GEIS) section is coordinating efforts with DoD and interagency partners to ensure DoD network labs can globally support detection and characterization of COVID-19 cases. GEIS currently funds ongoing surveillance efforts of animal markets on the Vietnam-China border and provides laboratory support for detection of respiratory diseases throughout a global network.

GEIS has supported COVID-19 activities through coordination of guidance as well as reagent procurement and distribution of surveillance testing material across the Military Health System network.

As of March 5, the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) had received and performed validation of surveillance reagents and observed no issues with performance.

Additionally, the reagents have been shipped to GEIS-supported laboratories including Naval Medical Research Units (NAMRU) in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and South America; Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences (AFRIMS); U.S. Army Medical Research Directorate-Africa (including associated test sites in Uganda and Tanzania); USMRD – Georgia; Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (LRMC), U.S. Naval Health Research Center; and U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine. Currently, all GEIS-supported laboratories, with the exception of NAMRU-3 sites in Egypt and Jordan, have received the test kits and are ready to provide surveillance support as requested.

These tests are molecular-based, COVID-19 detection assays that enable sample analysis and results in 4-6 hours. In addition, optimized Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) assays are evaluated by the GEIS NGS consortium partners and shared with partner laboratories when available. Through this support, GEIS-funded laboratories in Southeast Asia and across the network continue to provide information and analytical laboratory support to the geographic combatant commands and countries in their region.

“Testing kits specifically procured through U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) are intended for surveillance use in DoD laboratories. The primers and probes, and protocols, for the USAMRIID testing kits are the same as the CDC Emergency Use Authorization assay; however, DoD labs are only to use the testing kits for nonclinical/surveillance testing,” said Navy Cmdr. (Dr.) Mark Scheckelhoff, who leads the Respiratory Infections focus area for AFHSB's Global Emerging Infections Surveillance section.

International Health Surveillance 

Along with research, AFHSB concluded a NATO health surveillance collaboration meeting with international force health protection leaders March 11 at AFHSB headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland.

“We recognize that there is a lack of robust information sharing for military partners in NATO,” said O. Sean Friendly, AFHSB’s chief of operations and administration. “Through this ‘Smart Defense’ process, we are trying to close that gap with a shared health surveillance.”

The purpose of the two-part meetings was to develop a concept for a shared international mapping capability, similar to that of DoD’s Health Surveillance Explorer.

“If this capability were already in place, we would be able to see how this recent health outbreak of COVID-19 is impacting the movement of military troops in our NATO partnership,” said Friendly. “An international map would allow us to see how public health outbreaks impact the movement, mission, and ability of our troops to be healthy.”

 

You also may be interested in...

DOD continues to vaccinate from COVID-19 personnel worldwide

Article
1/26/2021
Two soldiers, wearing masks: one is getting a vaccine in his left arm

One-month update of COVID-19 distribution and administration efforts to DOD personnel.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

DHA director visits San Antonio military units, JBSA vaccination sites

Article
1/26/2021
Three military personnel, wearing masks, talking with each other in a hospital hallway

Army Lt. Gen Ronald Place, DHA director, recently visited JBSA vaccination sites and several other military locations in the greater San Antonio region.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

MHS Transformation results continue during COVID-19

Article
1/21/2021
Military personnel in a supply room, reaching for the top shelf

The MTF transition has enabled the DHA and the Services to increase standardization, eliminate duplicative contracts, and realize cost efficiencies by beginning the management of an enterprise-wide program.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | MHS Transformation

DOD recommends adults 75 and older should seek COVID-19 vaccine

Article
1/19/2021
Nursing home members, wearing masks, wait in a line to get their COVID vaccine

This age recommendation differs slightly from that of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends vaccinations for those 65 and older.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Is It Your Time to Get the Vaccine? | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | COVID-19 Vaccine for Adults Age 75 and Older

LTG Place Vaccine Roll-Out Video

Video
1/18/2021
DHA Seal

DHA Director LTG Ron Place talks about coronavirus vaccines, their safety and efficacy, and encourages everyone to do their own research to get vaccinated.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | COVID-19 Toolkit | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Partnerships, COVID-19 are catalysts for enterprise virtual health

Article
1/14/2021
Image of Mr. Adler with text: "Partnerships, COVID-19 are catalysts for enterprise virtual health."

Jamie Adler, the lead for the DHA’s Virtual Health Clinical Integration Office, discusses the future of virtual health (VH).

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Connected Health

COVID-19 hinders blood donations during National Blood Donor Month

Article
1/14/2021
Navy Capt. R. Wade Blizzard, commanding officer of U.S. Navy Support Facility Diego Garcia, donates blood for the Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Units Diego Garcia walking blood bank on Dec. 17, 2020. The walking blood bank is a list of eligible donors who can provide blood in case of emergency. (U.S. Navy photo by Navy Seaman Apprentice Stevin Atkins)

Life-saving blood is in high-demand by the Armed Services Blood Program, as the COVID-19 has negatively impacted donations.

Recommended Content:

Armed Services Blood Program | Public Health | Coronavirus | Holiday Observances

COVID presents new set of challenges for DOD environmental health

Article
1/12/2021
Group of Marines, snowshoeing through the snow

One of the most important factors to take into account when maintaining one’s overall fitness is physical environment.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness in a Pandemic | Reintroducing Total Force Fitness | January Toolkit | Coronavirus | Total Force Fitness

DOD Launches “My MilLife Guide” Text Message Program to Boost Wellness

Article
1/11/2021
The new My MilLife Guide program supports the wellness of the military community.

DoD has launched My MilLife Guide, a new program that sends text messages designed to help the military community boost overall wellness while navigating stresses related to COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Public Health | Total Force Fitness | Health Readiness

Navy corpsman provides multitude of support to hospital

Article
1/8/2021
Two military personnel, wearing masks, in a supply room looking at the shelves

“Thinking outside the box is what makes a great person, let alone a Sailor," Tie said.

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Coronavirus

DMRTI_EWSC Student Criteria

Fact Sheet
1/8/2021

A reference for potential EWSC students.

Recommended Content:

Emergency War Surgery Course (EWSC) | Defense Medical Readiness Training Institute | Combat Support

MTF facilities, markets set to resume transition heading into 2021

Article
1/6/2021
A military nurse, wearing a mask, prepares a needle for a vaccination

Butler says transition on track.

Recommended Content:

MHS Transformation | Coronavirus

BACH healthcare workers and first responders vaccinated for COVID-19

Article
1/6/2021
Soldier gives a nurse a vaccine in her left arm

BACH now joins other Defense Health Agency military treatment facilities that have received the vaccine, marking the start of a phased-in vaccination program to mitigate the spread of the virus.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | COVID-19 Toolkit

MHS operational innovations continue in battle against COVID-19

Article
1/5/2021
Two medical personnel, wearing full PPE, in an operating room

MHS innovations in 2020 include a new registry for real-time COVID-19 data and a system to free up hospital beds and protect patients from the disease.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Research and Innovation | Innovation | Technology

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

Publication
1/5/2021

This toolkit provides communicators across the Military Health System (MHS) with important information about the COVID-19 prevention and vaccination from the CDC to share with patients and health care professionals.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Information for Military Treatment Facility Directors | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | COVID-19 Toolkit | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 50

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.