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7th Annual Disaster Epidemiology Workshop Highlighted Intersections of Disaster Epidemiology and Climate Change

Posted By Jessica Wurster, Tess Konen, and Michael Heumann, Friday, July 15, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Dr. George Luber (CDC) gives the keynote address at the 2016 CSTE Disaster Epidemiology Workshop

CSTE, in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Association for County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) and Safe States Alliance, recently hosted the 7th Annual National Disaster Epidemiology Workshop on May 17-18, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. The workshop convened epidemiologists from state, territorial, and local health departments across the country, along with partners from CDC, other federal agencies, academic institutions, and non-governmental organizations. Over 80 people attended in person and over 60 people participated via live webinar. The workshop focused on the intersection of disaster epidemiology and climate change.

Dr. George Luber, the chief of the Climate and Health Program in the Division of Environmental Hazards and Health Effects at the National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was the keynote speaker on the first day of the workshop. Dr. Luber described the key health threats and impacts from climate change, which include air pollution, changes in vector ecology, increasing allergens, water quality impacts, water and food supply impacts, and extreme weather and heat. He identified the perception of climate change as a distant, slow-moving threat as a major issue and explained that the science of event attribution, linking extreme events to climate change, could reduce this belief.

Meredith Jagger gave the keynote address on the second day of the workshop. Ms. Jagger is an all-hazards epidemiologist with the Oregon Public Health Division and previously was the program manager for the Building Resilience Against Climate Effects Program at the Florida Department of Health. She described the intersections of disaster management, epidemiology, and climate science in her work at both Florida Department of Health and Oregon Public Health Division.

Speakers Nicole Nakata, Alicia Lepp, Devin George, and Kate Goodin answer questions from the audience.

In addition to the keynote presentations, the workshop featured three sessions corresponding to the phases of the disaster management cycle: planning, response, and recovery. A heat event and wildfire tabletop was conducted to discuss how to apply disaster epidemiology tools, climate change resources, and lessons learned to a realistic scenario.

The presentations are listed below and are available here.

1. Planning
  • The Louisiana Experience: Vital Records Advances in Disaster Related Death Registration
  • Public Health Implications and Usage of Electronic Death Registration Systems across the Disaster Life Cycle, One Jurisdictional Perspective
  • Shelter Surveillance Guidance Document
  • Planning for an Emergency: Strategies for Identifying and Engaging At-Risk Groups
2. Response
  • CASPER in Response to the California Drought, 2015
  • Emergency Responder Health Monitoring and Surveillance and its Implementation during the 2014 Ebola Response
  • Preparing for Extreme Heat in Arizona: A Heat-Health Early Warning System Approach
  • Chlorine ACE investigations in California: Hotels, Scrap Yards, and Swimming Pools
3. Recovery
  • Longitudinal Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response to Wildfire, Mental and Physical Health Impacts, Bastrop County, Texas
  • How Will I Know? Opportunities, Challenges and Considerations in Data Integration for Disaster Recovery

The CSTE Disaster Epidemiology Subcommittee provided an overview of its major activities and accomplishments during the last year. The workshop was recorded and is available on the webinar library

If you have any questions or would like more information about the CSTE Disaster Epidemiology Subcommittee, please contact Jessica Wurster.

Jessica Wurster, MPH is an associate research analyst at the CSTE national office. Tess Konen, MPH is the chair of the Disaster Epidemiology Subcommittee and is a senior epidemiologist at the Minnesota Department of Health. Michael Heumann, MPH, MA is a consultant with HeumannHealth Consulting LLC for CSTE. To learn more, visit CSTE’s Disaster Epidemiology page.

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