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CSTE and Epi’s Work Around the World

Posted By Jennifer Lemmings, Friday, December 2, 2016
Updated: Thursday, December 1, 2016

On November 4, President Obama signed an Executive Order reinforcing the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) as a presidential-level priority and bolstering the United States as a major catalyst for supporting the GHSA and its promise. In his Executive Order, President Obama highlights the role of protecting global security as a key tenet of the United States’ national strategy to combat biological threats. He points out that in a globalized world, in order to protect ourselves, we must protect and bolster other nations’ health infrastructures.

The United States, joining the World Health Organization (WHO), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction, the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), and other relevant organizations and stakeholders, will coordinate amongst governmental and non-governmental entities in order to advance the “global health agenda.” This will include the development of an inter-agency council to draft guidance for the agencies and support and track global health issues and how the United States can lead and participate in addressing them, among other things.

CSTE is pleased to support the President’s efforts, acknowledging that walls cannot stop the spread of disease, and therefore national health security can only be achieved through the protection of global health security. CSTE’s international role has accelerated rapidly within the last two years as we work to better support epidemiology surge capacity needs. Funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the CDC Foundation enabled CSTE to support international public health emergencies in Ebola, and now in Zika.

In January 2015, four French speaking senior epidemiologists traveled to four high risk Ebola Virus unaffected countries in Western Africa. As part of a comprehensive strategy to contain the regional Ebola epidemic, CDC and other international partners during this period were working in 18 unaffected high risk countries, with the aim of increasing capacity to detect and control any introduced Ebola Virus cases. The goal was to enhance the epidemiologic capacity in these countries and to provide:

  • Capacity building, technical assistance and guidance to the Ministries of Health/Health Departments surrounding Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia; and
  • Assessment of existing capacities and recommendations for improvement of policies and procedures
Funding for this work continued, and since August 2015 CSTE has supported an additional 40 deployments including those from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, with an average deployment in Western Africa of 43 days.
As needs in the Zika response efforts have increased, CSTE is also supporting epidemiology work in Puerto Rico. Currently six deployments are completed or underway.

CSTE urges the new administration to continue support for these important efforts, and will continue to advocate for funding for epidemiologists to protect our nation’s health.

Tags:  Disaster Epidemiology  epidemiology  Global Health  Health security  infectious disease  Outbreak  surveillance 

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5th Annual Disaster Epidemiology Workshop emphasized innovations in the field

Posted By Ashley Conley, Thursday, May 22, 2014
Untitled Document

On May 14-15, 2014, 55 people gathered in Atlanta from state and local health departments across the U.S., along with representatives from CDC, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the American Red Cross at the Fifth Annual Disaster Epidemiology (DE) Workshop. The CSTE workshop was also broadcast live via webinar. Approximately 60 people participated virtually via webinar. The theme of the workshop was “Innovations in Disaster Epidemiology,” which reflects how widely accepted DE is becoming as a part of the public health response to large-scale emergencies. The workshop was supported through a cooperative agreement with CDC and was co-sponsored by the Safe States Alliance (SSA) and NACCHO.

Dr. Sally Phillips, RN, PhD, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary (acting) for the Office of Health Affairs (OHA) at DHS, was the workshop’s keynote speaker. She described the evolution of DHS’s role in addressing health issues related to homeland security, including biological and chemical defense; food, agricultural, and veterinary defense; planning and exercise support; health incidence surveillance; and state and local initiatives. Another major focus of OHA is the safety and health of the more than240,000 employees in DHS, which includes staff in FEMA, US Border Patrol, and many others. OHA has overseen a strengthening of biodefense efforts of the BioWatch Program and the National Biosurveillance Integration Center. OHA is also working on guidance for radiation and nuclear disasters and for chemical defense programs. Workshop participants had many questions for Dr. Phillips about how OHA and DHS interact with public health agencies at the state and local levels.

The workshop included the following five sessions:
  • Surveillance during Disasters: Innovations in the Use of Technology and Tools
    • E-Surveillance
    • Epi-Info Applications for DE
    • Utilizing Android Tablets for Data Entry in the Field
  • Social Media and DE: Innovative Approaches to Surveillance and Situational Awareness
    • Hurricane Sandy: Changing the Landscape of Social Media Strategies
    • Operation Dragon Fire
    • Tracking Deaths during Hurricane Sandy
  • Innovating Approaches for Disaster Response to Recent Events
    • Blast Injuries from a Massive Explosion in a Residential Area in Texas, 2013
    • Acute Health Effects Associated with the Elk River Chemical Spill in West Virginia, 2014
  • Emergency Management and DE—An Innovative Partnerships from One State’s Perspective (Alabama)
  • Establishing Innovative Partnerships for Conducting DE
    • Operational Biosurveillance in the National Biosurveillance Integration Center
    • Partnering with the American Red Cross in the Disaster Cycle
The CSTE DE Subcommittee provided an overview of its major activities and accomplishments during the last year. The webinar was recorded and will be made available soon on the webinar library.
Ashley Conley, MS, CPH, CHEP is the chair of the Disaster Epidemiology Subcommittee. She is an epidemiologist at the city of Nashua Division of Public Health and Community Services in New Hampshire.
( Photo by Gil Talbot, courtesy of Saint Anselm College)
Ashley Conley, MS, CPH, CHEP
Nashua Division of Public Health and Community Services
New Hampshire

Tags:  disaster epidemiology  meeting summary 

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When a Natural Disaster Strikes……..

Posted By Sara Ramey, Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Untitled Document
Oklahomans live in “twister alley”, so those of us who live and work here are all too familiar with meteorologic terms like hook echoes, EF ratings, and tornado outbreaks. It’s expected that epidemiologists will be working diligently during an infectious disease outbreak, but public health staff, including epidemiologists also play an important role after a tornado outbreak.

During May 19 -31, 2013, central Oklahoma experienced three separate days of severe spring storms that generated EF4 and EF5 tornadoes affecting residents of six counties. The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) activated its emergency preparedness and response operations immediately following each of these events. In the immediate aftermath, public health response workers helped coordinate evacuation of a hospital that took a direct hit from a tornado and coordinated access to temporary water supplies for area hospitals and dialysis units affected by a major water station shut down. Recognizing that many persons will sustain puncture wounds from nails and other sharp debris during the clean-up and recovery phase, the OSDH mobilized static vaccination clinics and numerous “strike teams” to go into the hardest hit areas to provide over 7,400 tetanus immunizations to residents and volunteer workers in need of a booster vaccination. The CDC and Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommend that persons over 18 years of age get a tetanus-containing vaccination every 10 years with one of these being a tetanus-diptheria-acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccination to boost their immunity to pertussis (whooping cough), which is a resurging problem in the United States. The OSDH strike teams administered Tdap vaccine to provide this dual protection.
Epidemiologists from the OSDH Injury Prevention Service conducted an intensive review of medical records of all persons treated for injuries at 32 hospitals from May 19 to June 2, 2013 to fully assess the extent of tornado-related injuries, populations impacted, and protective actions taken. The results of this epidemiologic study were recently released at the National Tornado Summit in Norman, Oklahoma. A total of 49 deaths and 755 injuries were determined to be associated with the May 2013 tornado disaster. Somewhat surprisingly, over half of the injuries (419) occurred indirectly meaning persons were injured attempting to get into or out of a shelter (35%), fleeing the area (6%), or rescuing an animal or person (5%); 35% of the indirect injuries leading to hospital visits were sustained by persons assisting with clean-up after the tornado. Based on these findings, the OSDH will work with other partners to develop clear and consistent messages on where to shelter, when fleeing the area is the safest approach, and use of appropriate protective equipment or gear when sheltering and when cleaning up to help prevent injuries. All persons living in tornado-susceptible zones should develop readiness plans with their family before tornado season is here again.
Kristy Bradley, DVM, MPH
State Epidemiologist
Oklahoma State Department of Health

Tags:  disaster epidemiology  emergency preparedness  member spotlight 

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