In simple terms, epidemiologists track diseases and health issues to find ways to reduce them.
More formally, epidemiology is “the study of the distribution and determinants of health related states or events in specified populations, and the application of this study to control of health problems (Last, 2000)."
In the Division of Disease Control (DDC), we count how many people are sick with diseases that healthcare providers are required to report to the Department of Public Health. We also count some non-reportable conditions, and keep track of vaccination rates in Philadelphia.
We conduct studies to find factors that might help us try to reduce the burden of these diseases. Often these studies are done with researchers from universities, non-profit agencies, or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
We work closely with the academic public health community in Philadelphia. We host students from all of the local schools and programs of public health for community-based learning experiences. Epidemiology staff teach courses at a number of the local schools and programs.
The Division of Disease Control (DDC) uses several methods to track communicable diseases and emerging outbreaks of illnesses. Data are compiled and reports are published on our Health Information Portal.
Every year, DDC publishes an annual report that summarizes all of the diseases and conditions reported to PDPH for the previous year. This report is intended to give a broad overview of the disease burden in Philadelphia. DDC also compiles surveillance reports on the following topics:
- Respiratory viruses including influenza
- Arbovirus including West Nile Virus and Zika Virus
- Sexually Transmitted Disease
- Vaccine Coverage
View surveillance data on our Health Information Portal.
To request data, complete and submit this Data Request Form.
Data can be provided permitting that time and resources are available. Not all requests can be met, including those that require extensive data processing.
Requests for data for purposes of research generally need to be reviewed by the PDPH Institutional Review Board and the PDPH Health Commissioner's Office Review Committee. For more information, please email the Epidemiology Program.
- Focus on Field Epidemiology Online Training Course
(North Carolina Center for Public Health Preparedness)
(Open Source Epi Statistics Calculator Page)
- Pennsylvania Health Statistics and Research
- National Center for Health Statistics