The Connecticut Emerging Infections Program (EIP), a collaboration between Yale School of Public Health (YSPH) and the state’s Department of Public Health, has been awarded $20.9 million to continue research and surveillance of infectious diseases in Connecticut for another five-year cycle. $14 million of this award from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is earmarked to support the efforts of the YSPH office of EIP.

The Yale EIP tracks a wide range of infectious diseases that affect state residents. According to James I. Meek, M.P.H., EIP’s associate director, staffers annually monitor and investigate approximately 1,400 cases of food-borne illness, 1,500 cases of Clostridium difficile infection, 1,000 flu hospitalizations and 2,000 cases of high-grade cervical lesions caused by human papillomavirus infection. In addition, EIP staff survey approximately 1,500 hospital or nursing home residents to estimate the burden of health care-associated infections in these institutions and engage thousands of Connecticut residents in studies to assess the burden and evaluate prevention measures for tick-borne diseases.

Tracking these diseases allows EIP staff and state public health officials to better understand risk factors for contracting these diseases, identify targets for future public health interventions, and evaluate the effectiveness of current interventions.

“We are thrilled to be able to continue to build on the success of the past 20 years in conducting public health surveillance for Connecticut. Collectively, the diseases we monitor affect more than 10,000 residents every year, and monitoring trends is essential for informing public health practice and policy. We are also excited about our role in continuing to train students and fellows, who will be the public health workforce of the future,” says Linda M. Niccolai, Ph.D., associate professor of epidemiology (microbial diseases), who is co-principal investigator of the program along with Robert Heimer, Ph.D., professor of epidemiology (microbial diseases) and of pharmacology. Matthew Cartter, M.D., M.P.H., the state epidemiologist, serves as the Department of Public Health’s principal investigator.

“Emerging infectious diseases are a reality for Connecticut and tackling these infections in partnership with the CDC and the Connecticut Department of Public Health has enabled a robust response to protect Connecticut residents for over 20 years,” says Sten H. Vermund, M.D., Ph.D., dean and Anna M.R. Lauder Professor of Public Health, and professor of pediatrics. “We are especially pleased with the role that YSPH students are playing in specific projects, both contributing substantially and learning about public health practice in the process.”

Yale is one of 10 sites that have received renewed funding as part of the CDC’s Emerging Infections Program, a national network that monitors disease outbreaks in order to inform policy surrounding methods of preventing and treating infectious disease. Communities covered by the national EIP approximate the composition of total U.S. population in terms of age, race, gender, and other health indicators.

Yale was one of the first EIP sites funded in 1995, when the national program began.