A number of new training courses in public health surveillance and epidemiology are available now to help public health professionals ensure their continued knowledge and expertise in disease control and prevention measures. Public health professionals are constantly faced with epidemics and disease outbreaks, both infectious and noninfectious, acute and chronic; officials in all state, county, and city public health departments must be trained in epidemiology and surveillance to keep their communities safe and healthy, and to ensure their response activities are rooted in fact versus generalities. Public health professionals rookie and seasoned alike can benefit from participation in follow up refresher courses with exposure to new concepts.
A shining example of the importance of surveillance and epidemiology in public health is identification of the source of the Salmonella Newport infections, which sicked nearly 300 people nationwide in 2014. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s PulseNet, program, the national molecular subtyping network for foodborne disease surveillance, detected a multistate cluster of Salmonella Newport infections; through collaboration with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a total of 275 patients in 29 states and the District of Columbia were identified as infected over a four month period. Food consumption histories of the ill persons along with epidemiological data suggested that cucumbers were the vehicle of infection. Subsequent laborious trace-back investigations suggested the cucumbers came from an eastern state.
Additionally, several current high-profile disease outbreaks underscore the need for a work force trained in public health surveillance and epidemiology, including Ebola and measles. A new avian influenza strain, H7N9, being reported from China causes further need for skilled surveillance. The diverse genotypes identified show an increased ability to be transmitted among humans, raising concern about this flu strain becoming a pandemic in the near future.
These few scenarios demonstrate the importance of ensuring professionals in all health departments being are equipped with the skills to investigate, control, and prevent the spread of diseases in their communities. The courses outlined below can help public health professionals acquire or update their skills.