24 January 2014

Fridays from the Archives: Schools & Flu

Friday, January 24, 2014: Schools & Flu

Schools are often, for lack of a better descriptor, prime places for infectious disease transmission. But how do common infectious diseases, like seasonal influenza, move through a school? Are there specific patterns that could be accounted for to mitigate transmission?

It turns out that certain factors, such as social networks, may affect not only epidemic impact but also intervention effectiveness.  Through extensive modeling Gail Potter, PhD explores these social contact factors in School Disease Transmission: Has the time come for coordination between monitors and modelers? 

Of course, the other half of the title indicates needed coordination between modelers like Gail and monitors like Guoyan Zhang, MD, MPH and Anthony Llau, MPH, PhDc  who monitored ILI for Miami-Dade County in Florida. Daily school absenteeism surveillance used in coordination with evolving models of transmission could improve analysis of the absenteeism data. This is especially important since, as the presenters mention, absenteeism may not always equal true illness (or illness at all).

To learn more about flu and school absenteeism surveillance, and the modeling that can aid in analysis and intervention decisions, be sure to watch the full webinar from October 18, 2011 on our website.

This post is part of the series Fridays from the Archives. You can access all posts in the series here.

Written by Becky Zwickl, MPH, ISDS Public Health Analyst (bzwickl@syndromic.org)

14 January 2014

Participate in the 2014 Student Research Paper Contest

Preventing Chronic Disease (PCD) is looking for graduate and undergraduate students to submit papers relevant to the prevention, screening, surveillance, and/or population-based intervention of chronic diseases, including but not limited to arthritis, asthma, cancer, depression, diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. A peer-reviewed electronic journal, PCD was established to provide a forum for researchers and practitioners in chronic disease prevention and health promotion. The journal is published weekly by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

The winning manuscript will be recognized on the PCD website and will be published in a 2014 PCD release. Papers must be received electronically no later than 5:00 PM EST on January 23, 2014. More information on the contest and the submission process is available here.

10 January 2014

Fridays from the Archives: Smart Phones

Friday, January 10, 2014: Smart Phones

At the 2013 ISDS Conference in New Orleans in December we learned about innovative surveillance methods used across the globe. As technology evolves, so too does the ability to improve surveillance strategy and technique.

The Boston University School of Public Health Electronic Data Capture Team worked on integrating existing technologies in new ways, mainly focusing internationally. In 2011 three members of the team, Marion McNabb, MPH, Laura Khurana (then MPH candidate) and Chris Gill, MD, MS presented on their work in Data Collection, Management, and Surveillance: Using Smart Phones in Smart Ways.

Data from smart phones have a number of advantages including accessibility and ease of transmission and receipt. Though some technologies see sudden surges with equally sudden declines in use, cellphone use in general is still rapidly increasing worldwide. As of 2011, phones had been successfully used in surveillance for a number of uses including: Dengue Fever monitoring in Mexico; Real-time outbreak monitoring in mass gatherings, such as the 2009 Hajj; and infectious disease reporting after an earthquake in China (additional details on slide #36 of presentation).

With a number of disparate uses, smart phone surveillance can work with traditional surveillance methods, as well as in place of them. In low resource settings this combination is particularly useful.

This post is part of the series Fridays from the Archives. You can access all posts in the series here.

Written by Becky Zwickl, MPH, ISDS Public Health Analyst (bzwickl@syndromic.org)

08 January 2014

2013 ISDS Conference Poster Award Winner

Congratulations to Jessica Sell - the winner of the 2013 ISDS Conference Poster Award. Her poster, 'Evaluating a seasonal ARIMA model for event detection in New York City' was selected based on aesthetics and content.

Jessica Sell is an analyst in the Syndromic Surveillance Unit within the Bureau of Communicable Disease at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

To view the abstract and/or poster, please click here.

07 January 2014

Internship Opportunity at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health

The Massachusetts Center for Birth Defects Research and Prevention has an internship opportunity open for graduate level students looking to exercise statistical and data management skills in public health. Tasks include:
  • Help write SAS code for the development of a public health surveillance system using a variety of existing data sources.
  • Help with data cleaning, labeling, and formatting of an analytic dataset.
  • Document programs and produce codebooks for datasets.
  • Help with other data-related tasks as needed.

Learning time:
Meet with Birth Defects Center staff for at least one hour/week to learn about the work of the Birth Defects Center (surveillance and research) and support the staff in its daily activities. This internship will be under the supervision of a senior epidemiologist/data analyst who will provide mentorship and guidance.

The work hours as well as duration of the internship will be agreed on between Center staff and intern. The weekly work schedule could range from 8 – 20 hours over few or several months. It can be spread over any number of days in the office; the schedule could further vary from week to week.

All work will have to be performed at DPH’s central office in downtown Boston (250 Washington St., Boston MA 02108) between the hours of 8am – 8pm, Mon – Fri.

There is no monetary compensation from the Commonwealth. This is a non-paid internship and the Commonwealth is not responsible for any travel or other expenses incurred by the intern. Nor will the Commonwealth provide any workers compensation to the intern. (However, future compensation at $17/hour is a possibility pending availability of funding.)

Potential for school credit towards a master’s thesis, practicum, or the like will be supported.

For questions, contact Alejandro Cajigal at alejandro.cajigal@state.ma.us or 617-624-5515.

To apply, send resume and cover letter by email as soon as possible, but no later than Friday, January 24, 2014. Submitted resumes will be reviewed as soon as they come in.