Friday, July 2, 2004
This Week in the News
"The reason for collecting, analyzing and disseminating information on a
disease is to control that disease. Collection and analysis should not 1be
allowed to consume resources if action does not follow."
Survey Response Results Revealed
County Department of Environmental Health Administrator Recognized
The Walter F. Snyder Award was given to Pete Thornton this year for his achievements in environmental health.
of Shigelloses in Public Schools
Epi Update Managing Staff:
Valley Fever Moving Outside Africa|
The environmental health community is taking note: The fever is slowly making its way into the Middle East.
MD, MBA, MPH,
Secretary, Department of Health
►Meet Pete - Surveillance Systems Manager
Most persons recognize Pete Garner as the person responsible for EpiCom, the DOH online outbreak communication and notification system. Here are a few things you didn't know.
Division of Disease
Week on EpiCom|
In North Florida, a suspected case of malaria and a case of Legionnaire's. In South Florida, a mysterious rash in two separate incidents.
Acting Bureau Chief,
►Mosquito-borne Disease Update
A report outlining activities for the week June 20 - 26, 2004 for confirmed cases.
Copy Editor / Writer
A R T I C L E S
|Carmela Mancini, MPH, Administrator, Surveillance and Reporting Section, Bureau of Epidemiology||►Merlin Survey Response Results Revealed|
Among the respondents, 86% identified themselves as CHD employees and 12% as state health office employees. Fifty-nine percent (59%) of the survey respondents reported using Merlin on a weekly basis, of which 30% reported daily Merlin use.
According to the survey results, the Merlin helpdesk was well recognized among users; 92% of respondents had knowledge of its existence and purpose. Seventy-two percent (72%) of respondents utilized the helpdesk at least once, of which, 91% were satisfied with the experience and service received.
Among survey respondents who were involved in epidemiology and/or disease reporting pre- and post- Merlin, 62%, 59% and 63% indicated that reporting diseases, making changes to case information, and accessing/reviewing statewide surveillance data, respectively, was easier using Merlin when compared to the previous, paper-based system.
Seventy-seven percent (77%) of all respondents reported that Merlin had helped their CHD perform disease surveillance and reporting tasks in a more effective, efficient and productive manner (i.e. meet state goals for quarterly performance indicators; increase percentage of diseases reported by the CHD within 21 days).
If you have any
questions regarding the user satisfaction survey, including the
comprehensive results, please contact Carmela Mancini, BOE, at
850-245-4401 (suncom 205-4401). Thank you to all who completed and
returned a survey, your feedback is invaluable and greatly appreciated.
|Jaime Forth, Copy Editor / Writer, Bureau of Epidemiology||
County Health Administrator Recognized
When Pete Thornton accepted the position of environmental administrator of the Volusia County Health Department in 1985, he subsequently effected outcomes which have had far-reaching affects. Take, for instance, the creation of a nationally-marketed training CD for inspecting swimming pools and spas which has been purchased by the private pool industry. He also lead in the development of a pocket computer system that makes inspections, groundwater protection, GIS and emergency management accessible under the same application, and implemented cross-functional training that involves community leaders.
This innovative management style has served the citizens or Volusia County well as Pete and his team at the health department work together to promote a more healthy community. In May this year, the board of the National Health Association and National Science Foundation International took note of his achievements, and honored him with the prestigious Walter F. Snyder Award for 2004.
Giving the award to Pete in recognition of his notable contributions to public health demonstrated his capacity to work with all interests in solving environmental problems, proficiency in using voluntary standards to obtain environmental objectives, and leadership in securing action. The president of the Florida Environmental Health Association said, "I have no reservation about his worthiness to receive this award....he is...an inspiration for generations to come by continually finding new ways and new technologies to achieve greater efficiency and ease in our field."
Thornton has a Masters of Public Health
from the University of Michigan and was assistant director for
environmental health at the Broward County Health Department before
settling in Volusia County.
George Jackow; Saroj
Aggarwal, MD, MBA; Cheryl Dunn; Beth Shepard; Richard Smith
Control of Shigelloses in Public Schools
Control of outbreaks of Shigelloses in public schools in Brevard County took considerably more time (8-10 weeks) to control as compared to outbreaks of Shigelloses in day care centers (4 weeks).
Samantha Rivers, MS,
Arbovirus Surveillance Coordinator, Bureau of Community Environmental
As if West Nile virus weren't bad enough, the CDC is now on the lookout for another mosquito-borne disease, fearing it could become a permanent part of the American landscape if it enters the U.S. Rift Valley fever (RVF) is an acute, fever-causing viral disease that affects domestic animals (such as cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, and camels) and humans. RVF is generally found in regions of eastern and southern Africa where sheep and cattle are raised, but the virus also exists in most countries of sub-Saharan Africa and in Madagascar. In September 2000, an RVF outbreak was reported in Saudi Arabia and, subsequently, Yemen. These represent the first Rift Valley Fever cases identified outside of Africa.
Humans can get RVF as a result of bites from mosquitoes and possibly other bloodsucking insects that serve as vectors. We can also get the disease if exposed to the blood or other body fluids of infected animals. This exposure can come from slaughtering or handling infected animals or by touching contaminated meat during the preparation of food. Infection through aerosol transmission of RVF has resulted from contact with laboratory specimens containing the virus.
RVF virus can cause different disease syndromes. People with RVF typically have either no symptoms or a mild illness associated with fever and liver abnormalities. In some patients, however, the illness can progress to hemorrhagic fever (which can lead to shock), encephalitis (inflammation of the brain, which can lead to headaches, coma, or seizures), or ocular disease (affecting the eye). Patients who become ill usually experience fever, generalized weakness, back pain, dizziness, and extreme weight loss at the onset of illness. Patients typically recover within two days to one week after onset of illness; the case fatality rate for persons with severe RVF is about 14%.
The virus is
worrisome because at least 30 species of mosquitoes are capable of
carrying it from cattle or sheep to humans, far more than the kind of
mosquitoes that can carry West Nile virus. The CDC says that although the
disease does not presently occur in the U.S., people need to be aware of the signs
and symptoms. The Florida Departments of Health and Agriculture and
Consumer Services are alerting the medical and veterinary medical
communities to prepare for the possibility of its presence in this
|Jaime Forth, Copy Editor / Writer, Bureau of Epidemiology||
Meet Pete -
Surveillance Systems Manager
Pete Garner is best known for heading the initiative to create EpiCom, the Web-based surveillance and emergency notification system used by health department personnel and other medical professionals throughout the state to register disease occurrences and monitor critical events as they happen.
Pete is a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer with a BS in accounting from Florida State University with expertise in Internet technologies, imaging systems and LAN.
Before joining the Bureau of Epidemiology in 2002, Pete already had over 20 years' professional experience in private industry, working for international corporations in health and welfare in systems software design and development. He collaborated with the state's attorneys preparing the tobacco claim which resulted in the $11 billion settlement for the citizens of Florida, and was responsible for the design and development of practitioner enrollment of software applications with interfaces to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Pete's responsibilities at the Department of Health have entailed establishing a disaster recovery and continuity of operations site for critical systems, and the systems application for the MERLIN reporting system. He manages server production for the bureau and oversees a staff that handles GIS applications and EpiCom marketing. He still finds time to enjoy Tallahassee, biking the winding trails around the capitol and golfing on weekends.
To contact Pete,
email him at
email@example.com or call him at 850.245.4444, ext 2481.
|Pete Garner, Surveillance Systems Manager, Bureau of Epidemiology||
Week on EpiCom
- A case of suspected malaria in Jefferson County
- Legionnaire's Disease contracted by a visitor to St. George Island
- A female seen at Duval County hospital with rash
- A male from Mexico seen at Brevard County hospital with rash
The Bureau of
Epidemiology encourages Epi Update readers to not only register
on the EpiCom system at
https://www.epicomfl.net but to browse EpiCom frequently and
contribute public health observations related to any suspicious or
unusual occurrences or circumstances, as appropriate. EpiCom is the
primary method of communication between the Bureau of Epidemiology and
other state medical agencies during emergency situations.
|Arbovirus Surveillance Team: Samantha Rivers, MS, Caroline Collins, Kristen Payne, Calvin DeSouza, and Carina Blackmore, MS Vet. Med., PhD., State Public Health Veterinarian||
No Florida counties are under medical alert. Mosquito populations are increasing in many areas of the state. People are urged to take precautions against mosquito bites.
West Nile (WN) Virus activity: One WN positive crow was reported in Hillsborough (6/21) County. So far this year, 21 counties have reported WN activity.
St. Louis Encephalitis (SLE) Virus activity: None this week.
Encephalomyelitis (EEE) Virus activity: There were three seroconversions
to EEE virus in sentinel chickens from Alachua (6/14), Orange (6/14) and
St. Johns (6/14) counties. Four horses, one from Jefferson (6/08), one
from Marion (6/17), one from Osceola County (6/09) and one from Polk
County (6/12) were reported with EEE infections.
So far this year, 19 counties have
reported EEE activity.