Health Laboratories to be Focus of September Grand Rounds
The Association of
Public Health Laboratories will sponsor a program on the role of
public health laboratories on Friday, September, 26th from
2:00 to 3:00 p.m. EST, aired live via satellite and webcast. To earn
CEUs for the course, entitled Disease, Disaster and Detection:
Partnering with Public Health Laboratories, you must register as a
The focus of the hour-long program
will be a case study of the Minneapolis/Saint Paul laboratory network,
which developed a system for strengthening the relationship between
its public health and clinical laboratories. The program will describe
how leadership and communication fostered the quality of improvement
among the laboratories.
A panel discussion, led by Dr. Robert Marin, director of CDC’s
Division of Laboratory Systems and including Dr. Hugh Tilson, clinical
professor of epidemiology and health policy at the University of North
Carolina School of Public Health, Dr. Lou Turner, director of North
Carolina’s State Laboratory of Public Health, and Dean Bill Roper of
the UNC School of Public Health will follow the case study. Leaders of
public health laboratories, clinics, boards of health, and
professionals from state and local government health organizations
should find the program interesting, informative and helpful as they
seek ways to improve their own communities here in Florida.
For more information, call Public
Health Grand Rounds at 919.842.9261, email them at
Grand.Rounds@sph.unc.edu or log on to their web site at
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of Norwalk-like Virus Lands Cruise Ship
A cruise ship en
route from Copenhagen to New York cut short its voyage last week due
to an outbreak of a Norwalk-like norovirus among 300-some passengers,
and docked instead in New York harbor. The ship, stopping in Britain,
Ireland and Iceland before arriving in New York City, underwent a
routine investigation by members of CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program
(VSP) shortly after it docked.
Because cruise ships are required to
track gastrointestinal illnesses for each trip on which they embark
and to radio that information to the nearest quarantine station or
port where the ship will arrive, the CDC was able to immediately begin
evaluating the data to detect patterns and work with the ship’s crew
to determine how the outbreak may have occurred.
Health Service Act, Section 264(a) provides the CDC authority to take
measures necessary to prevent the introduction, transmission or spread
of communicable disease in the United States from a foreign country.
Each cruise vessel that calls on a U.S. port and also has a foreign
itinerary is subject to two un-announced inspections per year by VSP
staff. Ships are scored based on a 100-point scale, with an 86 or
above considered a passing grade. Failing inspection means a
re-inspection, usually within 30 to 45 days. These inspections are
published on the web at
www2.cdc.gov/nceh/vsp/vspmain.asp. In addition, cruise lines often
publicize them on their own web sites.
The VSP, which
was begun in the 1970s as a voluntary surveillance system for diarrhea
illness on cruise ships with 13 or more passengers, was the result of
a desire by the cruise industry and the CDC to reduce the number of
diarrhea cases aboard cruise ships. Investigations are conducted using
three disciplines; epidemiology, laboratory and environmental research
and analysis. At the conclusion, preliminary findings are
presented to the ship’s master with temporary recommendations until a
more thorough report can be documented. The program has been
considered successful, with 12 to 15 outbreaks each year during the
1970s and 1980s, but only three diarrhea outbreaks reported on cruise
ships in 1999.
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Orientation Set for County Health Department Personnel
season is rapidly approaching and with it the recruitment of new
community providers for the Florida Influenza Sentinel Physician
Network. This influenza season brings new challenges to the Influenza
Surveillance Program including the incorporation of year-round
reporting and enhanced surveillance for influenza A viruses H7N7 and
H5N1. Promotional recruitment materials were mailed to all county
health departments last week and the Bureau of Epidemiology will be
hosting a conference call on Monday, September 8th from
10:00 –11:00 a.m. EST for county health department influenza
Topics for the conference call include
background on the Influenza Surveillance Program, a summary of last
year’s program, recruitment strategies and instructions. Call details
will be announced by email to all county health department
epidemiology contacts, influenza coordinators and select laboratory
the Influenza Surveillance Program should be directed to Kathryn
Teates in the Bureau of Epidemiology at 850-245-4401.
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Development Team is currently conducting a series of meetings to
discuss changes to the system by assessing different areas of the
application. All Merlin users are encouraged to give feedback by
email, survey or by participating in the upcoming conference call.
Existing change controls will automatically be included in the
assessment. Comments for the lead poisoning prevention module,
perinatal hepatitis B prevention module, rabies module, extended data
and any other section are needed as well.
The last of the two conference calls
for county health department input will be on Wednesday, September 10th
at 10 a.m. EST. This call will cover Task Lists and Electronic
Laboratory Reporting. Those not able to attend the conference call
should email comments to the Merlin Helpdesk indicating the assessment
in the subject line of the email.
The completed assessment and
recommended changes will be published in summary form in an upcoming
issue of the Epi Update.
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Encephalitis (EEE) activity
appears to be on the decline as West Nile (WN) activity continues to
rise throughout much of the state.
Two WN virus infection cases were
reported this week in residents of Duval (onset 7/31) and St. Johns
(onset 8/7) counties, bringing the number of cases this year to 17.
Duval and Nassau were added to the list of counties under medical
alert, bringing the total to 15: Bay, Brevard, Broward, Collier,
Duval, Escambia, Gilchrist, Lee, Miami-Dade, Nassau, Okaloosa, Orange,
Palm Beach, Santa Rosa and St. Johns. Reported human EEE
infections remain at two. Last year by this time, there was one
human EEE infection in a Highlands County resident and two WN
infections, a Sumter County resident with a travel history to
Louisiana and a Miami-Dade transplant recipient.
EEE virus activity in animals: Two new
EEE virus infections were reported in horses this week. In
sentinel chickens, 3 seroconversions to EEE virus were reported. To date, 52 of Florida’s 67
counties have reported EEE virus activity, compared to 23 counties
reporting EEE last year at this time.
activity in animals: Eight WN
virus infected horses were reported. In addition, 61 seroconversions
to WN virus were confirmed in sentinel chickens from 24 of the 33
counties that collected samples.
Twenty-nine dead birds from 7 counties (14 from Bay) were
reported positive for WN virus. Fifty-one counties have reported WN
virus activity, compared to 44 at this time last year.
The complete report can be viewed at:
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Click on the link below to access the latest data
regarding this week's disease figures provided by the Florida
Department of Health, Bureau of Epidemiology.
week's disease table
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