The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has launched a “Solve the Outbreak”  iPad app that lets people play disease outbreak investigator, as if they were in the agency’s Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS). According to CDC, which announced the app this week, the program allows users to navigate three fictional outbreaks based on real-life events. Users get clues, look at data, and then make their own decisions to determine the cause of the outbreak. “The goal is to use new technology to  provide an engaging, interactive way for users to learn how CDC solves outbreaks, thereby increasing general knowledge about real-life public health issues,” said CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden. “This application allows us to illustrate the challenges of solving outbreaks and how our disease detectives work on the front lines to save lives and protect people 24/7.” CDC says that during the game participants also become familiar with health tips, definitions and information about epidemiology. Users can advance in rank as they earn points and can “post their results on Facebook and Twitter to challenge other participants.” “This is a great learning tool for science teachers, teens, young adults, public health enthusiasts and mystery lovers,” said Carol Crawford, branch chief, CDC’s Electronic Media Branch.  “The three introductory scenarios are based on actual events EIS officers have solved.  We also plan to add new outbreak cases.” Established in the early 1950s, the EIS program recruits some of the most gifted physicians, scientists, health professionals and veterinarians into a two year on-the-job training program in epidemiology.  In addition to their scientific, research and surveillance work in public health, EIS officers – also known as disease detectives – are ready at a moment’s notice to fly anywhere in United States and around the world to investigate mysterious disease outbreaks, natural and man-made disasters, and other public health emergencies. “The public no longer have to experience an outbreak investigation through fictional Hollywood films like Contagion,” Dr. Frieden said.  “Users can now get their own first-hand experience of being a disease detective through this new application.” The iPad app is available in the iTunes store here.