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...

COVID-19 Response

Video
11/27/2020
DHA Seal

Army Pfc. David Alvarado, assigned to the Javits New York Medical Station (JNYMS), talks about their position at JNYMS in support of the Department of Defense COVID-19 response, April 24, 2020. U.S. Northern Command, through U.S. Army North, is providing military support to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help communities in need. (U.S. Army Video by Cpl. Rachel Thicklin.)

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

How Can Vaccine and Antibody Studies Move So Quickly and Still Be Safe?

Video
11/3/2020
How Can Vaccine and Antibody Studies Move So Quickly and Still Be Safe?

This video provides a detailed overview of the processes that have been implemented to accelerate the pace of the COVID-19 vaccine and antibody studies, and what is being done to assure safety.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

The Importance of Enrolling Diverse Participants in COVID-19 Studies

Video
11/3/2020
The Importance of Enrolling Diverse Participants in COVID-19 Studies

This video discusses why enrolling diverse participants in COVID-19 studies is critical for ensuring that, when we find a vaccine, we have enough data from populations who are most affected by COVID-19 to determine vaccine safety and efficacy.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus

MHS Minute: Heroes Behind the Mask

Video
10/8/2020
Image of MHS Minute Carousel

In the face of a global threat, healthcare heroes across the MHS have donned their mask, and served on the front line of the battle against COVID-19. Tune in to this month's "MHS Minute" to learn more!

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

The Military Health System Celebrates Labor Day

Video
9/4/2020
The Military Health System Celebrates Labor Day

Labor Day pays tribute to the American workforce. This year, we pay tribute to the Military Health System Workforce.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

MHS Minute: A Call to Action for Convalescent Plasma Donation

Video
8/24/2020
Image of MHS Minute Carousel

Have you recovered from COVID-19, or tested positive for antibodies? Consider donating convalescent plasma. For eligibility requirements, and to find a donor center near you, go to https://www.militaryblood.dod.mil/Donors/COVID-19andBloodDonation.aspx

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Convalescent Plasma Collection Program

Convalescent Plasma Donation PSA featuring Lt. General Place

Video
7/10/2020
Image of Lt. Gen Place

Lt. Gen Place asks servicemembers DoD-wide to consider dontating plasma in the fight against COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Convalescent Plasma Collection Program

MHS Minute: DoD Focused on COVID-19 Testing and Treatment

Video
6/25/2020
Image of MHS Minute Carousel

Have you recovered from COVID-19, or tested positive for antibodies? Consider donating convalescent plasma. To learn how, go to https://www.militaryblood.dod.mil/

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

MHS Minute: Military Leading the Charge on COVID-19 Research

Video
5/28/2020
Image of MHS Minute Carousel

The military continues to serve on the front lines of research and treatment in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tune in to the MHS Minute to learn more.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Transport Vent Tutorial (ParaPAC) (March 25, 2020)

Video
5/11/2020
DHA Seal

Transport Vent Tutorial - ParaPAC

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Multi-Dimensional Approach To Intubation In The Setting Of COVID-19 (April 1, 2020)

Video
5/11/2020
DHA Seal

In this video, a doctor and nurse will talk you through preparing to intubate a patient. At the end of the video we highlight some special considerations for intubation in the context of COVID.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Shock Basics for the Non-Intensivist (March 19, 2020)

Video
5/11/2020
DHA Seal

Shock Basics for the Non-Intensivist...in the age of COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Airway Pressure Release Ventilation (APRV) (April 17, 2020)

Video
5/11/2020
DHA Seal

This video will explain the basics of Airway Pressure Release Ventilation, an option for mechanical ventilation, that is helpful as an oxygen salvage therapy for patients with Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS).

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Sedation and Analgesia in the ICU during COVID-19 (March 31, 2020)

Video
5/11/2020
DHA Seal

This video is intended to assist healthcare providers with the care of critically ill patients only. It is to be used as a guide ONLY for patients who have breathing tubes and are mechanically ventilated (on breathing machines). It will introduce you to sedative and analgesic medications that are used in the intensive care unit setting only. It will provide recommendations for use of sedation and analgesia in standard settings, but it will also provide recommendations for use in resource limited

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Ventilator Basics - Part 2 (ACPC and PS) (March 25, 2020)

Video
5/11/2020
DHA Seal

This video is an introduction to pressure control and pressure support ventilator settings. If you have not yet viewed 'Vent Basics for Non-Intensivists (ACVC/VAC)", please watch that video first. This video is not intended to be all encompassing. It is intended to educate non-intensivists on basic vent settings and vent mechanics.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus
<< < 1 2 > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 2

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.