Bioterrorism Coordinator Named State Epidemiologist for Arizona

PHOENIX -- Bioterrorism Coordinator David Engelthaler has been named state epidemiologist, Arizona Department of Health Services Director Catherine Eden announced late last month.


Engelthalers appointment comes at a critical time in public health, with the emergence of new disease like SARS and West Nile virus and the ongoing specter of bioterrorism.


David is a champion for prevention of disease and the promotion of better health, Eden said. His willingness to confront the most challenging health issues today will help to ensure a healthier future for all Arizonans.


Engelthaler has served primarily as the State Bioterrorism Coordinator, managing the health departments emergency response activities for the past five years. He has more than ten years experience in public health, including three years with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


Engelthaler cut his teeth on epidemiology during the 1993-1994 hantavirus outbreak in the Four-Corners area, where he investigated numerous cases and conducted research that helped determine causes of the outbreak. He has worked on several disease outbreaks since then, and was awarded a Fellowship with the CDC to research plague and other animal-borne diseases.


He led Arizonas response during the nations anthrax scare, and helped to lead the Department's activities during this summer's West Nile virus outbreak and the recent flu vaccine shortage. As the state's bioterrorism coordinator, he established a statewide bioterrorism response system involving over 100 state, county, and tribal health personnel.


As bioterrorism office chief, Engelthaler oversaw the establishment of Arizona's Health Alert Network (a communication system linking hundreds of health and safety personnel in the state), bioterrorism training of thousands of doctors and nurses, and the soon to be rolled-out electronic disease surveillance system. He will maintain the title of state bioterrorism coordinator in his new role, and will continue play an active role in the state's bioterrorism readiness activities.


"In the positions he has previously held, Mr. Engelthaler has proven to be a knowledgeable resource for our State Health Department, said Eden. "We are delighted that he will continue to apply his depth of education and professional experience in this leadership role."


Engelthaler has published numerous papers on disease ecology and microbiology and has a master's degree in microbiology from Colorado State University.


As state epidemiologist, Engelthalers responsibilities will include overseeing disease control and surveillance activities in the state, coordinating disease investigations and research with the Centers for Disease Control and other agencies, and assisting the Director in representing departmental and public health concerns to the media, legislature, other agencies and policy makers.


Arizona has a wonderful cadre of epidemiologists, who are responsible for controlling disease outbreaks every day. I look forward to working more closely with these unsung heroes, Engelthaler said. We also have great opportunities to link the public health system to our institutes of higher learning as well as the private community. With the great influx of biotechnology and biomedical resources in Arizona, I will help find ways to link important health research to public health practice throughout Arizona."


Source: Arizona Department of Health Services