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Thorpe honored with SD’s first disease intervention award

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Thursday, October 04, 2012
Lon Kightlinger, (605) 773-3737 


Thorpe honored with SD’s first disease intervention award


PIERRE, S.D. – Greta Thorpe, Aberdeen, has been named South Dakota’s first Distinguished Disease Intervention Specialist (DIS). The award was given in conjunction with National Disease Intervention Specialist Recognition Day on October 5, an annual observance recognizing the important role of DIS in preventing and controlling public health threats.


“DIS do the legwork of interviewing people infected with communicable diseases, identifying contacts and informing them of their exposure so they can be tested and treated,” said Dr. Lon Kightlinger, State Epidemiologist for the Department of Health. “This critical work breaks the chain of disease transmission and protects the public.”


horpe was selected for her dedication, professionalism, and willingness to do whatever it takes to get the job done. She holds a psychology degree from Northern State University and brings a unique set of skills to the department’s multi-disciplinary disease intervention team.   


“One of Greta’s greatest attributes is that she cares about every person she works with and she never forgets there is someone else down the line that could get infected if the disease isn’t stopped,” said Kightlinger.


She is one of 19 Department of Health DIS working out of field offices in Aberdeen, Pierre, Rapid City, Sioux Falls, Watertown, and Dupree. All DIS complete an extensive training course with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They are the backbone of the department’s sexually transmitted disease and HIV prevention efforts and also respond to other public health crises and outbreaks such as H1N1 influenza, E. coli, tuberculosis, hepatitis, pertussis and others.


“DIS are dedicated to serving the health of their communities,” said Kightlinger. “They work in challenging conditions, work weekends and nights and cover many miles to assure all patients who are infected or are exposed to an infection are notified and treated.”


Thorpe started with the Department of Health on June 9, 2003. She and her husband Bryson have two children, Westyn and Jace. 


National DIS Recognition Day is sponsored by the National Coalition of Sexually Transmitted Disease Directors.