THD Tulsa Health Department logo
Close this search box.


What is a “Disease Detective?”

(otherwise known as an Epidemiologist)

You may know about epidemiologists or an “epi” due to their involvement during the COVID-19 pandemic, primarily through social media, TV, radio and every other medium. However, before that time, epis have always conducted case investigations, studied disease surveillance and prevented outbreaks silently by helping clients stay safe and healthy.

You may even remember some famous epis from school: John Snow, Louis Pasteur, Joseph Lister and Robert Koch to name a few. These individuals are known for their work in cholera prevention, pasteurization, antiseptics, and anthrax.

Modern day epidemiologists work in all levels of government and the private sector, and they continue to influence best practices in disease prevention. Working tirelessly, epis across the country came to the forefront as they were the initiators in studying the incidence and prevalence of COVID-19. In 2020, THD epidemiologists protected individuals and families by conducting contact tracing to determine who may be infectious, studying the prevalence of disease and preventing outbreaks as much as possible.

Outside of the COVID-19 pandemic, THD epis continue conducting case investigations for reportable diseases in Oklahoma. You may have received a call from one of our epis about a specific illness. Primarily, those illnesses that affect the gastrointestinal system, and those that are easily spread through skin-to-skin contact, the air or by blood. Through investigation, an epi’s job is to prevent the further spread of an infectious disease by determining possible exposures, providing educational resources and studying the data to determine origin and causation.

THD epis focus as much as possible on prevention to minimize the harmful effects of diseases. In doing so, you will find them attending community events, teaching educational presentations at universities and schools and conducting media interviews to disseminate timely and specific resources. As examples, our classes range from teaching hand hygiene in preschools to providing infectious disease updates for senior communities in long-term care facilities.

Share This Article

Skip to content