Friday, Oct. 1 was the 10th annual National Disease Intervention Specialists Recognition Day, the day honoring health care professionals who are crucial in the effort to disrupt the transmission of deadly infectious diseases by connecting people who have been exposed to care and services using a method called contact tracing, which has been vital during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
These dedicated specialists work quickly to notify people of their exposure, link them to testing, and help clients identify realistic strategies for preventing additional exposures.
All of these efforts help to reduce the number of new infections and are designed to protect our most vulnerable populations from becoming exposed to COVID-19.
Disease intervention specialists existed long before the COVID-19 pandemic.
They have responded to rising rates of sexually transmitted diseases, prevented the transmission of tuberculosis, introduced people to HIV prevention and care, and ended foodborne disease outbreaks.
Even though many investigators were pulled away from their routine casework and had to adapt their skills for the COVID-19 response, the need to prevent other infectious diseases in addition to COVID-19 remains.
ADHS appreciates these professionals’ commitment, flexibility, persistence, and sacrifice. Disease investigation is a journey of balancing endemic infections with those that are only just emerging.
Editor's note: Jessica Rigler is assistant director overseeing the Division of Public Health Preparedness at the Arizona Department of Health Services. Visit azdhs.gov.