May 2023: Public Health Surveillance

Editor-in-chief Lloyd F. Novick highlights new articles in the May/June 2023 issue of the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice.

This issue focuses on various programs that enable public health surveillance. Surveillance is the critical collection and analysis of data that provide the basis for public health practice. The lead scientific article “Improving Foodborne Disease Surveillance and Outbreak Protection Using Peer Networks” by White and co-authors shows how this type of activity is necessary to the prevention and control of foodborne disease in the United States. Contaminated foods in the US cause an estimated 48 million illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations, and 3000 deaths each year. The article describes the development by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of Integrated Food Safety Centers of Excellence (IFS CoEs) at selected state health departments in collaboration with academic partners.

Another illustration of the wide range of surveillance activities is shown in an article describing the development and evaluation of syndromic surveillance activities for fall and hip fracture emergency department visits. Surveillance definitions for fall and hip fracture were developed and used by the CDC’s National Syndromic Surveillance Program (NSSP) and compared with the percentage of Emergency Department (ED) visits from the Healthcare Utilization Project Emergency Department Sample, a nationally representative set. The importance of this work is shown by falls that resulted in 8 million injuries, 3 million emergency department visits, and 32,000 deaths among older adults in 2018.

Two articles in the issue describe a more frequently used surveillance method, wastewater examination, to gauge the threat of COVID-19 to the community. Harris-Lovett and co-authors report in “Wastewater Surveillance to Inform Public Health Decision Making in Residential Institutions” that decision makers at six residential units (universities, prisons, and nursing homes) found information from wastewater surveillance, combined with other information, helpful in making decisions to counter the transmission of COVID-19.

The “Implementation and Utilization of Wastewater-Based Epidemiology Experiences from a Local Health Department” by Swain and colleagues reports that in 2020 the Oakland County Health Division in Michigan began using wastewater surveillance initially at a large sewer site and then at residential facilities. Between September 2021 and May 2022, more than 760 samples were collected of which 13 percent were above a predetermined threshold. When sites were above threshold, testing and vaccination efforts were offered. The authors conclude that wastewater epidemiology is a useful tool when funding and a trained staff are available.

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Author Profile

Lloyd F. Novick
Lloyd F. Novick, MD, MPH, is Professor Emeritus of the Department of Public Health at the Brody School of Medicine, East Carolina University. Previously, he was chair of this Department. He has served as the Commissioner of Health and Secretary for Human Services of Vermont, Director of Health Services for Arizona, and Director of the Office of Public Health for New York State. Previous academic positions include Professor and Director of the Preventive Medicine Program for SUNY Upstate Medical University, Professor and Chair of Epidemiology at the University of Albany School of Public Health, and Clinical Professor and Director of the Teaching Program in Epidemiology and Public Health at the University of Vermont, College of Medicine. He is the Founding Editor and Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice. He is also editor of five books, including Public Health Administration: Principles for Population-Based Management; Public Health Issues in Disaster Preparedness; Community-Based Prevention Programs that Work; Public Health Leaders Tell Their Stories; and Health Problems in the Prison Setting. He is past president of the Association of Teachers of Prevention and Research (APTR) and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO). He has received a number of national awards, including Special Recognition Award, American College of Preventive Medicine (2005); Duncan Clark Award, Association of Teachers of Preventive Medicine (2003); Yale University Distinguished Service Award (2003); Excellence in Health Administration, American Public Health Association (2001); and the Arthur T. McCormack Award, Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (1992). He is a graduate of Colgate University (BA), New York University (MD), and Yale University (MPH).

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