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Am J Epidemiol. 2011 Dec 1;174(11 Suppl):S89-96. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwr311.

Epidemic assistance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention involving American Indians and Alaska Natives, 1946-2005.

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Division of Epidemiology and Disease Prevention, Indian Health Service, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA.


The authors describe 169 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention epidemic-assistance investigations involving American Indians and Alaska Natives that occurred during 1946-2005. The unique relation between the US federal government and American Indian and Alaska Native tribes is described in the context of transfer in the 1950s of responsibility for Indian health to the US Public Health Service, which at the time included the Communicable Disease Center, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's precursor. The vast majority of epidemic-assistance investigations were for infectious disease outbreaks (86%), with a relatively limited number, since 1980 only, involving environmental exposures and chronic disease. Although outbreaks investigated were often widespread geographically, the majority were limited in scope, typically involving fewer than 100 patients. Epidemic-assistance investigations for hepatitis A, gastrointestinal and foodborne infectious diseases, vaccine-preventable diseases, zoonotic and vectorborne diseases, acute respiratory tract infections, environmental exposures, and chronic diseases are described chronologically in more detail.

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