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Sharing our stories on preparing for and responding to public health events


Battling Polio in Africa: Part 1, Positive Reception in Every Village

Categories: Polio

Ted Pestorius squeezed a liquid capsule of vitamin A supplement to a child during a National Immunization Day in Ghana. Vitamin A helps prevent blindness.

Ted Pestorius squeezes a liquid capsule of vitamin A supplement to a child during a National Immunization Day in Ghana. Vitamin A helps prevent blindness.

Note: This is the first in a series about Ted’s experiences in Ghana during February, March, and April 2010.

VOLTA, April 20, 2010 — It’s been a good trip. I’m at the end of my 12 weeks volunteering with WHO in Ghana as a Field Officer for a STOP Team — Stop the Transmission of Polio.  As a member of team number 33, I’m one of the thousands of STOP volunteers who have participated since polio eradication began in 1988 and have been traveling from clinic to clinic across the country to review and improve their childhood immunization practices. While our emphasis is on polio, we pull records and review impact for all nine of the childhood vaccines used here in the country.

Doing Good with Baked Goods: Student Helps CDC Support Ebola Research

Categories: General

Table displaying cookies and muffins and sign reading "Bake sale: All proceeds go to the Centers for Disease Control and will be used for supplies to help find a cure for Ebola...a deadly disease currently affecting people in Africa"

Ebola often captures the interest of students who are preparing projects and reports. But I’ve found that rarely does it prompt someone to then raise funds on behalf of Ebola research. However, this is exactly what Ashely Enoch decided to do.

For her senior project at Soap Lake Middle and High School in Washington, Ashely held a bake sale.  Her intention was to help raise money that could be used to research a potential cure for Ebola.

Celebrating National Drinking Water Week 2010

Categories: Waterborne

Drinking Water Week logo

Most of us don’t stop to think about the importance of a safe and reliable water supply, but imagine what life would be like if drinking tap water meant putting yourself at risk for a serious (or even deadly) illness – or if the tap was dry.

National Drinking Water Week, sponsored by the American Water Works Association, is an annual observance that takes place this year May 2–8. The theme of the week, “Only Tap Water Delivers,” is a reminder of the many public health benefits provided by our tap water and the need to make sure that we maintain and improve our water system infrastructure so we can continue to enjoy safe water.

Dengue: The Key West Tour

Categories: Vectorborne

Aerial view of Key West (circled in red) off the coast of Florida

Aerial view of Key West (circled in red) off the coast of Florida

I often get asked about mosquito-borne dengue fever in the context of climate change. One of the first things I tell people is that it’s actually quite common outside the United States. Between 50 and 100 million cases occur each year, including about 500,000 of the really severe hemorrhagic fever type, and the numbers continue to increase. This increase is due to the usual suspects: more people moving into cities with poor sewage and scattered water containers that breed mosquitoes, increased international travel spreading the mosquito and viruses, and poor public health systems to control the mosquitoes.

Bringing Vaccines to a Location Near You

Categories: Prevention/Vaccination

Girls smiling and showing off their band-aids

Vaccines are in the news, on the minds of parents, in commercials, and on Oprah’s couch. Childhood vaccination has been bolstered by recommendations developed by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices with the participation and consensus of the nation’s medical professional organizations. It has been institutionalized as a part of pediatric practice.

Food-borne Outbreaks Caused By Ingredients: Would You Like Some Pepper With That?

Categories: Foodborne

 Child shying away from pepper seasoning.

I often discuss the globalization and complexity of our food supply to highlight both the wonderful diversity of our yummy foodstuffs but also the challenges from contamination. Recently, architectural students in California provided a vivid example when they deconstructed a taco from a street-vendor to see the origin of each of the ingredients (see article) — from local cheeses to international spices and rice, which collectively travelled 64,000 miles to Juan’s Taco Truck in the San Francisco’s Mission District. State and federal public health officials do the same thing whenever there is a food-borne outbreak — identify the likely suspect and trace it back to its source — whether it be the grocery store, food distributor, factory, slaughterhouse, or farm. This is easier with what are called commodity outbreaks: ground beef or spinach, for example. Tracking down the source is extremely difficult, however, when the contamination is an ingredient that may be in many different foods.

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