New Lab Matters: The ABCs of PFAS

New Lab Matters: The ABCs of PFAS | www.APHLblog.org

First discovered in the 1930s, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) now pervade almost every aspect of modern life. In fact, PFAS compounds are found in everything from dental floss to cookware. But human exposure to PFAS comes at a cost, and as old compounds are removed from production, new compounds take their place. So how does a public health laboratory handle this challenge with limited resources? As our feature article shows, by establishing new public-private partnerships.

Here are just a few of this issue’s highlights:

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The post New Lab Matters: The ABCs of PFAS appeared first on APHL Lab Blog.

SUIT UP for Lab Week — 2019 Lab Week ToolKit

SUIT UP for Lab Week -- 2019 Lab Week Toolkit | www.APHLblog.org

How do you suit up? With a crisp white lab coat and purple gloves? Or maybe in a fierce yellow hazmat suit? How about knee-high rubber boots and waders? However you SUIT UP, we want to see it! Take photos or video of you suiting up for Lab Week, and share on Instagram using #SuitUpforLabWeek.

Celebrate Lab Week April 21-27, 2019!

Join the conversation! Use and follow #LabWeek #SuitUpforLabWeek #APHL on:

Printables

Social media graphics

Sample social media posts

  • When evil pathogens appear, public health lab scientists don’t run the other way… they SUIT UP! http://www.aphlblog.org/ #LabWeek #SuitUpforLabWeek
  • Look at those ten little baby fingers and ten little baby toes! But does she have any serious heritable conditions? Newborn screening lab scientists SUIT UP to find out! http://bit.ly/2ERxbkQ #LabWeek #SuitUpforLabWeek
  • Millions of gallons of mine waste spilled into a river. Public health and environmental laboratory scientists immediately SUIT UP and go into response mode! http://bit.ly/2ERSWBc #LabWeek #SuitUpforLabWeek

Stories that highlight public health, environmental and agricultural laboratory work:

Videos

Celebration ideas

  • Celebrate Lab Week internally with a social event, banners or other decorations. Print posters, stickers and activity sheets shared below!
  • Hold an open house for media, elected officials, school groups, staff families and other members of the community. Check out the Milwaukee Health Department Laboratory’s story about their health fair for students.
  • Visit local elementary, middle and high schools to talk with students interested in science and health.
  • Write an op-ed piece for local newspapers and/or magazines to highlight the valuable contributions your public health laboratory staff are making in your community, city and/or state.
  • Do you have other ideas? Share them in our Facebook group, APHL Off the Bench, so others can enjoy them too!

Earth Day is April 22 – here are some ways to incorporate it into your Lab Week celebration:

  • Host a Green and Blue Day and ask staff to wear colors representing earth and water.
  • Hold a grounds-keeping afternoon: Invite staff and their families to help with weeding, mulch, planting, etc.
  • Ask if your regional EPA office plans to do something for Earth Day and join them as a partner.
  • Encourage employees to do Meatless Monday or purchase items at a local farmer’s market instead of the supermarket.
  • Encourage employees to carpool, take the bus, walk or ride their bike to work.
  • Learn more about the Water Environment Federation (WEF).

APHL is part of the Lab Week coalition.

 

 

The post SUIT UP for Lab Week — 2019 Lab Week ToolKit appeared first on APHL Lab Blog.

SUIT UP for Lab Week — 2019 Lab Week ToolKit

SUIT UP for Lab Week -- 2019 Lab Week Toolkit | www.APHLblog.org

How do you suit up? With a crisp white lab coat and purple gloves? Or maybe in a fierce yellow hazmat suit? How about knee-high rubber boots and waders? However you SUIT UP, we want to see it! Take photos or video of you suiting up for Lab Week, and share on Instagram using #SuitUpforLabWeek.

Celebrate Lab Week April 21-27, 2019!

Join the conversation! Use and follow #LabWeek #SuitUpforLabWeek #APHL on:

Printables

Social media graphics

Sample social media posts

  • When evil pathogens appear, public health lab scientists don’t run the other way… they SUIT UP! http://www.aphlblog.org/ #LabWeek #SuitUpforLabWeek
  • Look at those ten little baby fingers and ten little baby toes! But does she have any serious heritable conditions? Newborn screening lab scientists SUIT UP to find out! http://bit.ly/2ERxbkQ #LabWeek #SuitUpforLabWeek
  • Millions of gallons of mine waste spilled into a river. Public health and environmental laboratory scientists immediately SUIT UP and go into response mode! http://bit.ly/2ERSWBc #LabWeek #SuitUpforLabWeek

Stories that highlight public health, environmental and agricultural laboratory work:

Videos

Celebration ideas

  • Celebrate Lab Week internally with a social event, banners or other decorations. Print posters, stickers and activity sheets shared below!
  • Hold an open house for media, elected officials, school groups, staff families and other members of the community. Check out the Milwaukee Health Department Laboratory’s story about their health fair for students.
  • Visit local elementary, middle and high schools to talk with students interested in science and health.
  • Write an op-ed piece for local newspapers and/or magazines to highlight the valuable contributions your public health laboratory staff are making in your community, city and/or state.
  • Do you have other ideas? Share them in our Facebook group, APHL Off the Bench, so others can enjoy them too!

Earth Day is April 22 – here are some ways to incorporate it into your Lab Week celebration:

  • Host a Green and Blue Day and ask staff to wear colors representing earth and water.
  • Hold a grounds-keeping afternoon: Invite staff and their families to help with weeding, mulch, planting, etc.
  • Ask if your regional EPA office plans to do something for Earth Day and join them as a partner.
  • Encourage employees to do Meatless Monday or purchase items at a local farmer’s market instead of the supermarket.
  • Encourage employees to carpool, take the bus, walk or ride their bike to work.
  • Learn more about the Water Environment Federation (WEF).

APHL is part of the Lab Week coalition.

 

 

The post SUIT UP for Lab Week — 2019 Lab Week ToolKit appeared first on APHL Lab Blog.

New Lab Matters: Time to welcome the next generation of public health laboratory scientists

New Lab Matters: Time to welcome the next generation of public health laboratory scientists | www.APHLblog.org

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 12,000 new laboratory professionals are needed each year to meet consumer demand. At the same time, while automation has eliminated some less-skilled laboratory jobs, the growing sophistication of public health laboratory analyses has generated demand for scientists with highly specialized training. As our feature article shows, laboratories are recruiting new talent for the “hidden profession” by taking a hard look into what they really want, and how they want to work.

Here are just a few of this issue’s highlights:

Subscribe and get Lab Matters delivered to your inbox, or read Lab Matters on your mobile device.

The post New Lab Matters: Time to welcome the next generation of public health laboratory scientists appeared first on APHL Lab Blog.

Partnerships Help Save Lives When Disaster Strikes

Emergency responders gathered in a circle.

Public health emergencies occur every day across the United States. Tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, floods, infectious disease outbreaks, terrorist attacks, and other emergencies have all occurred within the past few years and likely will happen again. Communities must be ready in the event of a public health emergency – both those they expect and those that come without warning.

Since 2002, CDC’s Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) program has provided funding and guidance to 50 states, four cities, and eight territorial health departments across the nation to protect communities. Planning and exercising plans help ensure that health departments are ready to respond and save lives when emergencies occur.

While we all hope that emergencies never happen, they are inevitable and the true test of any preparedness system. The following stories are examples of how CDC’s PHEP program works with states and local communities to ensure they are ready to respond to any emergency. Some of CDC’s partners include health departments, community organizations, national public health organizations, and private companies.

Restoring California Communities after Devastating Wildfires

A fire truck responds to a brush fire.In 2017, nearly 9,000 fires, almost double the average annual number, burned 1.2 million acres in California. The fires destroyed more than 10,800 structures and killed at least 46 people. However, thanks to years of planning for such events and building a public health infrastructure through the PHEP program, state and local health departments were ready to respond immediately and help their communities recover over the following months.

Through partnerships and support provided by the PHEP program in and around Sonoma County, local officials evacuated more than 1,160 patients from area hospitals and many other healthcare facilities. Additionally, because of the relationship the state built with the California National Guard through the PHEP program, more than 100 volunteer troops cleaned the Sonoma Developmental Center in one day. More than 200 patients with disabilities were then able to return safely to the facility.

Ensuring Access to Medication during an Influenza Outbreak in Maine

Package of Oseltamivir (i.e., Tamiflu) capsulesIn March 2017, an influenza outbreak on Vinylhaven, a remote island off the coast of Maine with a population of about 1,165, sickened half of the island’s residents. The outbreak depleted the medical center’s Tamiflu® supply. Tamiflu® can greatly lessen the severity of influenza but it must be taken early in treatment.

Because of a partnership agreement established under PHEP with the Northern New England Poison Center, local pharmacies, and other organizations, and the Maine Department of Health staff quickly delivered 100 treatment courses of Tamiflu®. As a result, the state successfully reduced the impact of the influenza outbreak on the island.

Responding to a Water Contamination Incident in Illinois

Bottles of water on a conveyor belt.On May 2017, a water main break under a river contaminated water in Cumberland County, Illinois, and left some residents without water entirely. Health department staff funded through PHEP established water distribution sites with bottled water donated by private partners such as Walmart, Coca-Cola, and Anheuser-Busch. Staff also went door-to-door to check on residents and distribute materials about safe water.

The PHEP program ensures public health emergency management systems and experts are ready to respond when emergencies occur. Preparedness efforts throughout the years have saved lives and helped communities return to normal operations as quickly as possible.

From natural disasters to infectious diseases, the PHEP program protects America’s health, safety, and security to save lives. Check out the PHEP Stories from the Field to find out more about how the PHEP program has helped communities prepare for, respond to, and recover from public health emergencies.

3 Reasons Why Handwashing Should Matter to You

Unseen woman washing her hands with soap in a sink.

Most of us are familiar with the parental-like voice in the back of our minds that helps guide our decision-making—asking us questions like, “Have you called your grandmother lately?” For many that voice serves as a gentle, yet constant reminder to wash our hands.

Handwashing with soap and water is one of the most important steps you can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to loved ones. Many diseases are spread by not cleaning your hands properly after touching contaminated objects or surfaces. And although not all germs are bad, illness can occur when harmful germs enter our bodies through the eyes, nose, and mouth. That’s why it is critical to wash hands at key times, such as after a flood or during a flu pandemic, when germs can be passed from person to person and make others sick.

Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to reduce the number of germs on them, however during a disaster clean, running water may not be available. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in some situations, but sanitizers do not eliminate all types of germs.

Here are three key reasons why you should always care about handwashing:Your hands carry germs you can't see. Wash your hands.

  1. Handwashing can keep children healthy and in school. Handwashing education can reduce the number of young children who get sick and help prevent school absenteeism.
  2. Handwashing can help prevent illness. Getting a yearly flu vaccine is the most important action you can take to protect yourself from flu. Besides getting a flu vaccine, CDC recommends everyday preventive actions including frequent handwashing with soap and water.
  3. Handwashing is easy! Effective handwashing is a practical skill that you can easily learn, teach to others, and practice every day to prepare for an emergency. It takes around 20 seconds, and can be done in five simple steps:
    1. Wet your hands with clean, running water, turn off the tap, and apply soap
    2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap
    3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice
    4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water
    5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air-dry them

Promote Handwashing in Your Community

Global Handwashing Day is celebrated annually on October 15 to promote handwashing with soap as an easy and affordable way to prevent disease in communities around the world. This year’s theme, “Clean Hands—A Recipe for Health,” calls attention to the importance of handwashing at key times, such as before eating or feeding others, and before, during, and after preparing food.

Learn how you can get involved and promote handwashing at home, your child’s school or daycare, and your local community:

APHL and Canadian Public Health Laboratory Network Reaffirm Cross-border Partnership with MOU

APHL and Canadian Public Health Laboratory Network Reaffirm Cross-border Partnership with MOU | www.APHLblog.org

Recently APHL and the Canadian Public Health Laboratory Network (CPHLN) signed a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) that reaffirms their long-standing collaboration and updates the specifics of the MOU. Executive Director Scott Becker, MS, and President Joanne Bartkus, PhD, traveled to the National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) in Winnipeg, MB, to formalize the agreement with the Scientific Director General of the NML and federal co-chair of CPHLN Matthew W. Gilmour, PhD., and current provincial co-chair Paul Van Caeseele, MD.

To hear more about this cross-border partnership, APHL spoke with Theodore Kuschak, PhD, Director, Office of Networks and Resilience Development, National Microbiology Laboratory, and CPHLN secretariat member, and Graham Tipples, PhD, Medical-Scientific Director of the Provincial Public Health Laboratory in Alberta, and past provincial co-chair of CPHLN.

What prompted APHL and CPHLN to establish the first Canada-US MOU in 2004?

Kuschak: I was hired in 2003 to lead the CPHLN and met Scott Becker at a meeting in Toronto a week later. We started talking and came up with the idea for an MOU as a way to formalize the relationship between our two networks. We’ve maintained an MOU from 2004 to this date, with modifications and re-signing in 2008, 2011 and now in 2018.

Actually, our Canadian laboratory organization precedes 2004, going back all the way to 1947 when provincial lab directors created a Technical Advisory Committee to advise the national lab. This group disintegrated in the late 1990s, but resurfaced as the CPHLN after the 9/11 and anthrax attacks. CPHLN member labs collaborate and assist each other, much as public health labs do in the US. All provincial and federal CPHLN labs operate on an equal footing, which makes the network unique.

How does the MOU benefit CPHLN and its member laboratories?

Kuschak: The MOU enables our provincial labs to break through the governmental hierarchy and interact directly with state public health labs. If a provincial lab director has a particular challenge, he or she can be linked through APHL to a state lab director who is dealing with the same issue. Additionally, the MOU makes it easier to obtain approval for travel and for other collaborative activities to support our partnership.

More broadly, the CPHLN-APHL relationship facilitates collaboration on technical issues, interventions like exchange of information, knowledge, and participation in APHL board of directors meetings, annual meetings, and other activities.

CPHLN also benefits from APHL’s work to develop standards, guidelines and tools to strengthen laboratory practice. For instance, we’ve adapted the Core Functions of Public Health Laboratories and worked with APHL to develop the Laboratory Assessment Tool for use by all public health labs.

How does this cross-border laboratory partnership benefit the public’s health?

Kuschak: It makes such a difference to have long-established personal relationships on both sides of the border.  We can pick up the phone and get answers from each other when we need them. As a result, we can respond more quickly to events – and the faster we respond, the sooner our data is available to guide patient care.

Tipples: The ongoing exchange between the two networks also helps to ensure the consistency of lab diagnostics and surveillance in support of patient care and public health action. This is vital considering the number of people who cross the Canada-US border daily.

How does the APHL/CPHLN collaboration support public health emergency preparedness?

Tipples: It’s often said that emerging diseases know no borders. A disease threat in the US is a threat in Canada as well. We participate in PulseNet and other international disease surveillance systems such as influenza and measles. Occasionally, specimens from Canada go to CDC for analysis if we lack the capability, as occurred very early on during the Zika outbreak.

Kuschak: Our US network partners are always ready to help in an emergency. In 2014 we wanted to know what was happening with Ebola testing in Texas. If we’d contacted the state health laboratory, they would have said, “Who are you?” Instead we called Scott [Becker] and he got back to us within a day with the information we needed.

Here’s another example: Many years ago I was at APHL’s old offices in downtown DC when I got a call from Frank Plummer, who was then the director general of our national lab. Frank explained that there had been an issue with a proficiency panel distributed by a diagnostics company to labs in the US and Canada. The panel included a particularly concerning pathogen strain. I asked, and received approval, to share this news with Scott so that he could alert APHL member labs. I then had to get on the phone to tell our provincial labs to handle the panel with appropriate bio safety precautions. Scott set me up with an office and a phone, and offered to get me anything I needed, including lunch. You can’t beat that kind of support!

Do you foresee opportunities to expand the APHL/CPHLN partnership? 

Tipples: Collaboration between the two networks has expanded already. As a member of APHL’s Training and Workforce Development Committee, I’ve had a chance to assist with development of the new DrPH in Public Health Laboratory Science and Practice program, designed to address the shortage of CLIA laboratory directors. I was also able to pull in the NML’s talented lead bioinformatician to contribute to the development of the bioinformatics component of the curriculum.

And as of 2017, there’s a place reserved for a Canadian in APHL’s Emerging Leader Program. We’re excited to have CPHLN represented in this excellent leadership development program.

Kuschak: Our public health agency has asked for more lab involvement in shaping nation-wide health planning. We’ll be collaborating on development of a national strategy for preparedness and response to viral hemorrhagic fevers, development of a public health genomics strategy for Canada, and other work. As we move forward with this and similar initiatives, you can be sure that we’ll be on the phone once again with our American colleagues.

 

The post APHL and Canadian Public Health Laboratory Network Reaffirm Cross-border Partnership with MOU appeared first on APHL Lab Blog.

The Power of Preparedness: Prepare Your Health

Group of people kneeling around a CPR dummy.

The devastating hurricanes of 2017 reminded us how important it is to prepare for disasters. These potentially life-threatening situations have real impacts on personal and public health. During Hurricane Irma, existing medical conditions and power outages increased the likelihood of death. Being prepared with supplies and an Emergency Action Plan can help you protect the health of your family until help arrives.

September is National Preparedness Month (#NatlPrep), and the perfect time of year to remind people of The Power of Preparedness. This year’s call-to-action of Prepare Your Health (#PrepYourHealth) and four weekly themes highlight the roles that individuals, state and local public health, and CDC play in creating community health resilience. It takes everyone “pulling in the same direction” to create families, communities, and a nation that can withstand, adapt to, and recover from personal and public health emergencies.

The first week focuses on personal preparedness, and the importance of nonperishable food, safe water, basic supplies, and the personal items you need to protect your health until help arrives.

Personal needs

A large-scale disaster or unexpected emergency can limit your access to food, safe water, and medical supplies for days or weeks. However, nearly half of adults in the U.S. do not have an emergency kit for their home; they don’t have the provisions, supplies, and equipment necessary to protect the health of their families in a disaster. This list will get you started:

  • Special foods—such as nutrition drinks—for people with dietary restrictions, food sensitivities and allergies, and medical conditions such as diabetes.
  • Prescription eyeglasses, contacts and lens solution
  • Medical alert identification bracelet or necklace
  • Change of clothes
  • Emergency tools (e.g., manual can opener; multi-use tool; plastic sheeting; etc.)
  • Durable medical equipment (e.g., walkers; nebulizers; glucose meters; etc.)
  • Medical supplies, including first aid kit
  • Pet supplies
  • Baby and childcare supplies

Prescriptions

The hands of an elderly man holding a pill organizer

Many people need daily medications and medical equipment. Nearly half of Americans take at least one prescription drug, and a quarter of Americans take three or more medications. A large-scale natural disaster, like a hurricane, could make it difficult to get prescription and over-the-counter medicines.  You and your family may need to rely on a prepared emergency supply. There are some basics to include:

  • A 7 to 10 day supply of prescription medications stored in a waterproof container.
  • An up-to-date list of all prescription medications, including dosage and the names of their generic equivalents, medical supply needs, and known allergies.
  • Over-the-counter medications, including pain and fever relievers, diuretics, antihistamines, and antidiarrheal medications stored in labeled, childproof containers.
  • A cooler and chemical ice packs for storing and keeping medicines cold in a power outage.

Paperwork

Over half of Americans do not have copies of important personal paperwork. Collect and protect documents such as insurance forms, and medical, vital, and immunization records. Here are some of the basics:

  • Health insurance and prescription cards
  • Shot records
  • Living wills and power of attorney forms
  • Vital records (e.g., birth and death certificates; adoption records)
  • User manuals, model and serial numbers, and contact information for the manufacturer of medical devices (e.g., blood glucose meters; nebulizers)
  • Hardcopies of your Emergency Action Plan

Power sources

A portable generator sitting outside in the snow.

A power outage can close pharmacies, disrupt medical services, and can be life threatening for over 2.5 million people who rely on electricity-dependent medical equipment. Be ready for a lengthy blackout with an emergency power plan and back up. You will need alternative power sources for your cellphone, refrigerator , and medical equipment. Here’s a checklist:

  • Extra batteries, including those for hearing aids, in standards sizes (e.g., AA and AAA)
  • Fully-charged rechargeable batteries for motorized scooters
  • Hand-crank radio with USB ports
  • Car chargers for electronic devices, including cell phones and breast pumps
  • A generator

Practical skills

Finally, it’s important to know some basic do-it-yourself skills to stay healthy and safe until help arrives. Here are the basics to get you started:

  • Call 911 in a life-threatening emergency
  • Get trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). If you do not know CPR, you can give hands-only CPR—uninterrupted chest compressions of 100 to 120 a minute—until help arrives.
  • Learn how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED).
  • Learn Handwashing is one of the best ways to protect yourself, your family, and others from getting sick.

The good news is that it is never too late to prepare for a public health emergency. You can take actions, make healthy choices, and download free resources to help you prepare for, adapt to, and cope with adversity.

Lab Culture Ep. 16: Informatics, health equity and bat snuggles

Lab Culture Ep. 16: Informatics, health equity and bat snuggles | www.APHLblog.org

Joanne Bartkus, APHL’s board president and director of the Public Health Laboratory at the Minnesota Department of Health, sat down with Scott Becker, our executive director, and Gynene Sullivan, editor of Lab Matters magazine, to talk about priorities for the year. Their conversation ranged from informatics to health equity to… snuggling with a bat?!

Joanne Bartkus, PhD, D(ABMM)
Director, Public Health Laboratory, Minnesota Department of Health

Scott J. Becker, MS
Executive director, Association Public Health Laboratories​
@ScottJBecker

Links:

Lab Matters

Lab Matters — Android app

Lab Matters — iTunes app

APHL Board of Directors

The post Lab Culture Ep. 16: Informatics, health equity and bat snuggles appeared first on APHL Lab Blog.

The Sickness Lurking Beneath World Cup Fever

  The Sickness Lurking Beneath World Cup Fever Posted August 16, 2018 by Dean Schillinger post-info While watching the World Cup, Dean Schillinger was reminded of the ongoing back-and-forth matchup between the soda industry and public