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California Tribal Epis Visit New Orleans for a Peer to Peer Technical Assistance Consultation supported by CSTE’s Vector-Borne Diseases Subcommittee

Posted By Stephen Clay, Friday, September 29, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, September 26, 2017

One of CSTE’s primary objectives is to increase epidemiology and surveillance capacity in state, local, tribal and territorial jurisdictions through various programmatic and workforce capacity building initiatives. The CSTE Vector-Borne Diseases Subcommittee facilitates peer to peer technical assistance consultations to support new and less established vector-borne disease surveillance coordinators and staff. These consultations may include an orientation to the surveillance system, guidance and program requirements and day-to-day systems management.

Michael Mudgett and Zoilyn Gomez, epidemiologists at the California Tribal Epidemiology Center (CTEC), recently participating in a peer to peer technical assistance consultation supported by CSTE with staff at the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH). CTEC is one of 12 Tribal Epidemiology Centers that provide epidemiological support to each Indian Health Service region and work directly with both tribes and Indian Health Programs. CTEC monitors the health status of American Indian/Alaska Natives (AIAN) in California to develop effective public health services for their respective AIAN populations.

To begin building a foundation for vector-borne disease (VBD) surveillance capacity, Michael and Zoilyn traveled to Louisiana to work with the Infectious Disease Epidemiology Section (IDEpi) within the LDH Office of Public Health in New Orleans. CTEC’s main goal was to gain a better overall understanding of VBD surveillance in order to increase surveillance capacity within tribal jurisdictions in California. Chrissie Scott-Waldron (Public Health Epidemiologist Supervisor), Julius Tonzel (Public Health Epidemiologist) and Sean Simonson (Public Health Epidemiologist) coordinated the technical consultation visit at LDH and they were all very gracious, accommodating and helpful in answering questions throughout the consultation.

Much of the consultation consisted of engaging on various aspects of VBD disease surveillance, ranging from orientations of databases and surveillance systems, demonstrations of integrated mosquito management including various traps, mosquito species identification, rearing rooms, biological control and adulticiding/larviciding equipment, touring laboratories for human and ecologic testing and other sites vital to the VBD program.



Pictured: A shot of downtown New Orleans. Photo credit: CTEC

Day 1

We were quickly brought up to speed about IDEpi through introductions and key personnel presentations. Throughout our first day, we reviewed the various types of databases and surveillance systems utilized for VBD and visited the New Orleans Mosquito and Termite Control Board. At NOMTCB, we learned about the actual controlling and surveilling of the mosquito population, especially with the amount of standing water and high humidity in the area. Dr. Sarah Michaels demonstrated the various types of mosquito traps used around the city. Interestingly, we learned just how much Zika-virus potential is in the area since the mosquito Aedes aegypti is prevalent.

One of the biggest issues in the area with mosquitos breeding and standing water is that of disposed car tires. Many tires were simply dumped in areas like New Orleans East, which causes interesting problems for public health to handle. It was surprising that there were so many tires that needed to be disposed of in the area, and how the people contracted to dispose of the tires are finding it increasingly difficult to keep up with the demand.

The presentations given by the great staff at IDEpi provided a unique opportunity to see how VBD surveillance works behind the scenes with electronic lab reporting, database management, lab testing, interaction with providers and the Zika Pregnancy Registry.

 

Day 2



Pictured (L-R): Randy Vaeth, Sean Simonson, Chrissie Scott-Waldron, Kyle Moppert, Zoilyn Gomez, Julius Tonzel and Mike Mudgett. Photo credit: Louisiana Department of Health.

The second day had no shortage of VBD-related sites to see. The day began with a trip to Baton Rouge to meet State Medical Entomologist Kyle Moppert. We toured the East Baton Rouge Mosquito Abatement and Rodent Control District with Randy Vaeth, Assistant Director.

One interesting conversation on Day 2 was the public perception of public health services. In recent years, the public has been debating whether they believe the risk of spraying is worth the reward of having a mosquito population controlled. We found this intriguing since the general public in California is no stranger to debating public health services and whether certain services are perceived to be more harmful than good. However, it was clear to see the vital role these entities play in controlling the mosquito populations.

Following the Mosquito Control facility tour, the group headed to the ecologic arboviral testing lab at the Louisiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, where Dr. Alma Roy gave a tour of their facility and shared information on the comparable lab in California. She described in detail how they tested mosquitoes for endemic and important arboviral diseases via PCR, in addition to testing various animal reservoirs for these diseases.

Next, we visited the West Baton Rouge Mosquito Control District, a small yet impressive two-person operation, before rounding out the day at the Louisiana Office of Public Health State Laboratory. We toured the facility and saw how the lab conducts molecular and serologic testing to report out human results to IDEpi. It was inspiring to see the great relationships IDEpi had with all of these sites.

 

Day 3

On our final day, we met with the CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) Officer, Dr. Alean Frawley, where she provided insight on her role. Megan Jespersen, Surveillance Epidemiologist and Tribal Liaison, also gave us an overview of the Louisiana Early Event Detection System, which is Louisiana’s Syndromic Surveillance System, and the Louisiana Indian Health Surveillance.

Overall, the consultation was very valuable, as we received what we sought from the trip: foundational knowledge and technical guidance about VBD to support a younger public health entity. The consultation provided ample opportunity for us to bring back technical knowledge about VBD surveillance to CTEC. We hope to implement what we learned in our future work and thank CSTE and the Louisiana Department of Health for this opportunity.

 
To learn more about CSTE’s Vector-Borne Diseases Subcommittee or to participate in a peer to peer technical assistance consultation, please visit http://www.cste.org/members/group.aspx?id=144262 or contact Jordan Peart at jpeart@cste.org.
 

Tags:  epidemiology  infectious disease  local epidemiology  surveillance 

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Why is it important for local epi’s to join CSTE?

Posted By Laurene Mascola, Thursday, May 29, 2014
Untitled Document

I have had the privilege of being on CSTE’s Executive Board for 5 years—I was the first president elected from a local health department. It is crucial that local health department epidemiologists take an active role in CSTE, as the locals are the footsoldiers of public health. The states can mandate all that they want, but they need to hear from us! Our perspective can shed light on a different reality during decision making. We are all after the same prize—creating a healthier population.

First, some history. The Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) was founded more or less in 1951 by the CDC’s first Epidemiology Division Director, Alexander Langmuir, who recognized the important role of state and local epidemiologists and tasked them to decide what diseases should be reported nationally. This meeting, held by CSTE in 1951, generated the first fully-documented list of notifiable diseases. CSTE has continued to hold the responsibility for defining and recommending the diseases and conditions that are reportable within states.

Since its beginning, CSTE has grown into a national organization for state, local, tribal, and territorial epidemiologists across disciplines and disease categories, representing their interests with CDC, other national organizational partners, and Congress. CSTE’s work includes infectious disease, maternal and child health, chronic disease and oral health, and injury, environmental health, and occupational health. It recently started a subcommittees for public health law, epidemiology methods, and the integration of public health and primary care. CSTE also keeps up on current and important issues, like substance abuse, MERS-CoV and other outbreaks, and informatics. By joining CSTE, epidemiologists become part of a public health network that delivers up-to-date information on important issues and allows us to benefit from professional development opportunities, and participate in networking events.
But why should you join? You’re like me—a local epi. And as local epi’s, we have a perspective to offer CSTE and its many program areas and subcommittees. We should join CSTE not only for what CSTE can offer us as applied epidemiologists but also for what we can offer CSTE. How do federal policies filter down to local jurisdictions when they’re implemented? What challenges do local jurisdictions face when funding is cut or a major incident occurs? How does what we do differ from that at the state level? What successful programs or challenges do we experience in our day-to-day work that we want others to know about? These are all examples of ways we can help CSTE represent all applied epidemiologists. These are ways we can add our perspective to CSTE’s activities. These are reasons why we as locals should join CSTE.
Click here for more information about CSTE membership.
Laurene Mascola, MD, MPH, FAAP is the chief of the acute communicable disease control program at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. She is the Vice President of CSTE.

Tags:  local epidemiology  membership 

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