Nov 2017 Focus: Communicable Disease

by Lloyd F. Novick, MD, MPH

The November/December issue of the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, focusing on the public health aspects of communicable diseases, emphasizes new initiatives at the cutting edge of prevention, surveillance, and control. As JPHMP enters its 24th year of publication in 2018, the mission of this publication in bringing new advances to practice with a basis in evidence remains foremost. In our first issue in January 1995, the editorial, “Fulfilling a Need: A Focus on Public Health Practice” described this theme:

By focusing on actual practice, JPHMP will facilitate the sharing on new initiatives to improve community health. Descriptions and preliminary assessments of approaches under development will be welcome (1).

This current issue contains examples of new types of interventions holding promise for application to future population-based practice. A commentary by John Beltrami and Erica Dunbar describes how in 2012 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention awarded 30 health departments funding to conduct high-impact non-research demonstration projects (known as Category C) that had to be consistent with the 2010-2015 National HIV/AIDS strategy. These projects were funded through 2015. Category C activities linked newly diagnosed persons to HIV care. Using HIV surveillance data for partner services improved this important function as compared to traditional partner notification efforts by health departments. Remarkably, nearly all of these Category C health departments retained these enhanced activities after the federal funding ended.

Rituparna Pati, of the Spencer Cox Center for Health, Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, and colleagues report on another initiative to improve retention in care for persons with HIV. They found that the combined use of laboratory and clinic visit data to measure retention in care provided a superior representation of care status as compared to use of a single data source.  Indeed, a recommendation is made for routine sharing of data by public health institutions and clinical care providers to target re-engaging patients who are lost to care in jurisdictions with universal HIV reporting. Retention in care was improved by combining data from laboratory and clinic visits.

Pharmacists can also contribute by offering point of care testing (POCT) that facilitates surveillance of HIV, influenza, and streptococcal pharyngitis. Pharmacy-public health collaborations of this type are reported in an article by Paul Gubbins.

Another innovation is described in an article on the use of Twitter to identify cases of food poisoning. Illnesses related to food safety are underreported. Consumer reports of foodborne illness can help identify serious problems. This article by Jenine Harris recommends increasing the availability of web-based reporting mechanisms for the public as a potential strategy.

As a number of previous publications in JPHMP have reported, the incidence of legionellosis has sharply increased in the United States. Jurisdictions across the nation are considering whether to develop regulations to protect individuals against Legionnaires’ disease. A groundbreaking article in this issue describes the implementation and effectiveness of a 2005 citywide Legionella testing mandate of multifamily housing cooling towers in Garland, Texas. This is the first ordinance in the United States to mandate this routine testing for Legionella in multifamily housing.


1, Novick, LF. Fulfilling a Need: A Focus on Public Health Practice. JPHMP 1:1 vi-vii, 1995

Lloyd F. Novick, MD, MPH is the Founding Editor and Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice and Professor Emeritus of the Department of Public Health at the Brody School of Medicine, East Carolina University. Follow him on Twitter. [Full Bio]