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ASPPH 2014 Story of the Year: Ebola Crisis

Without question, Ebola has been the public health story of the year. Time named Ebola Fighters the “Person of the Year”. Ebola queries dominated the search engine in 2014. The disease was one of the most popular overall search topics. It was the number one “what is” search, and Ebola symptoms were the highest symptoms searched on Google. We are proud to have a membership so involved in fighting the Ebola crisis. In reflecting upon 2014, we would like to provide a recap of some of our members and fellows Ebola initiative highlights.

Microscopic view of the ebola virus

Background: The Ebola Outbreak

The 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa has been referred to as a humanitarian crisis and threat to international security by health care officials, organizations, and policymakers. The recent isolated cases in Europe and in the United States have raised concerns about public health and emergency preparedness. Some of the most commonly cited concerns are the adequacy of staff safety and training; whether interagency communication and cooperation has been optimal; the delegation of responsibilities between federal and state authorities; and the sufficiency of preparedness planning.  A common concern that links them all, is funding. One lesson the Ebola outbreak has taught us is that funding research institutions, especially schools and programs of public health, directly contributes to protecting and improving population health. Schools and programs of public health bring unique skills and resources to the public health emergency and preparedness landscape, they have global reach, expertise, and longevity that is sustainable across time and geography. Schools and programs of public health also:

Contribute to the development of a sustainable workforce of public health professionals who prevent problems from happening or recurring through educational programs, recommending policies, and administering services;
promote the science of protecting and improving the health of all families, locally and globally, through promotion of healthy lifestyles, health care equity, quality, and accessibility; and conduct research for disease and injury prevention and detection and control of infectious diseases.

Schools and programs of public health are working to respond to the Ebola outbreak through various activities. Three areas on which member schools and programs have focused their activities are research, teaching and training, and service. These activities support the need for more investment and effective public health policies in order to advance population health.

ASPPH Member Ebola-Related Activities

Columbia University: The Mailman School’s Center for Infection and Immunity (CII) is heading to the heart of the Ebola outbreak to set up a state-of-the-art diagnostic laboratory next year.

For more information: http://www.mailman.columbia.edu/news/help-its-way

Drexel University: School of Public Health alumna Ms. Lauren Finn, MPH ’13, supported efforts at the CDC by assisting with the analysis of international Ebola data.

For more information: http://publichealth.drexel.edu/news/latest-news/2014/October/Alumni-Finn-Epidemiology-of-Ebola

East Tennessee State University: A doctoral student in the College of Public Health with a background in play therapy, who worked in Liberia, has started “Playing to Live!”

For more information: http://www.johnsoncitypress.com/article/121100/etsu-student-leads-international-effort-to-help-children-impacted-by-ebola

Emory: The Rollins School of Public Health’s Student Outbreak and Response Team (SORT) are creating maps that contain data for houses, buildings, villages, and roads for case finding and contact tracing. The maps are being used by the CDC, Doctors Without Borders (MSF), the International Red Cross (IRC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and other UN Agencies.

For more information: http://sortemory.wordpress.com/

Georgia State University: The School of Public Health has partnered with international non-profit MAP International to send protective suits to health care workers in West Africa.

For more information: http://publichealth.gsu.edu/2014/09/26/sph-partners-with-nonprofit-to-send-ebola-suits-to-africa/

Harvard: Dr. Pardis Sabeti, associate professor at the School of Public Health, was named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, after he supervised a study that connected the spread of Ebola in Sierra Leone to women who attended a funeral in Guinea.

For more information: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/hsph-in-the-news/outbreak-of-ebola-virus-in-sierra-leone-traced-to-funeral/

University of Iowa: Mr. Grant Brown, a doctoral student in the College of Public Health, is working to develop open source software to model and predict the spread of Ebola.

For more information: http://grantbrown.github.io/Ebola-2014-Analysis-Archive/Oct_02_2014/Ebola2014/Ebola2014.html

Johns Hopkins: The Bloomberg School of Public Health hosted a symposium on the Ebola epidemic. Speakers discussed the impact of the West Africa epidemic, current and future response, the status of vaccines and possible pharmacologic therapies, recommendations to prevent spread of the disease outside of West Africa, and other issues.

For more information: http://www.jhsph.edu/events/2014/ebola-forum/

Michigan: As a service to the community, the University of Michigan School of Public Health experts have created videos and other resources that discuss Ebola, how it is transmitted, what the likelihood of spread is in this country, and more.

For more information: https://www.sph.umich.edu/ebola/

Nebraska: Faculty from the College of Public Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center presented world-leading information regarding Ebola for Nebraska health care providers and EMS personnel during a series of webinars in November.

For more information: http://www.unmc.edu/publichealth/news/ebola-community.html

NYU: Partnering with UNICEF, the NYU Global Institute of Public Health is launching a course, Behavioural & Communication Strategies for Global Epidemics: Focus on Polio and Ebola.

For more information: http://www.nyu.edu/about/news-publications/news/2014/10/29/open-forum-on-ebola-.html

Ohio State University: The College of Public Health hosted an interactive lecture to raise awareness of the challenges facing the first responders to the Ebola crisis in West Africa.

For more information:http://cph.osu.edu/ebola-front-lines

Rutgers University: Mitchel Rosen and Jack Caravanos, from the Rutgers School of Public Health, Office of Public Health Practice, developed and implemented an Ebola Personal Protective Equipment train the trainer program.

For more information: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ooWhmD2RpvY

Texas A&M: Findings from the Health Science Center School of Public Health study have provided insights and recommendations to help media response during disease outbreaks.

For more information: http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=preparing-african-journalists-for-the-next-health-crisis

Tulane: Dr. Daniel Bausch, associate professor of tropical medicine, has worked on Ebola treatment and training efforts in West Africa as well as in meetings around the world to advocate for ways to close gaps in the Ebola response.

For more information: http://tulanesphtm.wordpress.com/2014/11/04/public-health-on-the-frontlines-of-an-outbreak-sphtm-responds-to-ebola/

The Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences: The USUHS has been engaged in the response to the Ebola epidemic through engagements with The Center for Disaster and Humanitarian Assistance Medicine (CDHAM), and the Center for Study of Traumatic Stress.

For more information: http://ncdmph.usuhs.edu/KnowledgeLearning/__SCATxxx2014-10Ebola.htm

University of Alabama – Birmingham: University of Alabama at Birmingham alumnus Dr. Faisal M. Shuaib, is heading up the National Ebola Emergency Operations Center in Nigeria.

For more information: http://www.soph.uab.edu/news/faisal-shuaib-charge-control-ebola-nigeria

University of California – Davis: USAID has awarded up to $100 million for the second phase of the PREDICT project. PREDICT is part of the Emerging Pandemic Threats program, an international campaign to rapidly detect and respond to emerging viruses such as Ebola.

For more information:http://news.ucdavis.edu/search/news_detail.lasso?id=11096

University of California – Irvine: UC Irvine Global Health Research Education and Translation faculty wrote a letter on issues related to non-professional Ebola treatment in an article titled “Black market blood transfusions for Ebola: potential for increases in other infections”.

For more information: http://www.globalhealthaction.net/index.php/gha/article/view/2635

University of Florida: Dr. Richard Hopkins, a faculty member in the College of Public Health, has been asked to serve on the medical advisory group of the Florida Department of Health’s incident management team to prepare for possible introduction of Ebola virus into the state.

For more information:http://mph.ufl.edu/2014/11/03/dr-richard-hopkins-chosen-for-fl-doh-medical-advisory-board/

University of Georgia: The College of Public Health and Athens Regional Medical Center held a community forum to discuss the infectious disease and any potential local impacts.

For more information: https://www.publichealth.uga.edu/news/armc-uga-college-public-health-host-%E2%80%98-conversation-about-ebola%E2%80%99-sept-25

University of Kentucky: University of Kentucky College of Public Health alumnus, Dr. Daniel Saman, was recently featured on CNN’s New Day to discuss the Ebola virus.

For more information:http://www.uky.edu/publichealth/about/news/2014-10-20/college-public-health-alumnus-featured-cnn-discussing-ebola-myths

University of Maryland: Dr. Sandra C. Quinn, professor in the University of Maryland School of Public Health, challenged public health and health care professionals to do more within our organizations, with communities, and with policymakers to reduce the unequal burden of disease and death among socially disadvantaged subpopulations.

For more information:http://sph.umd.edu/news-item/maryland-and-pittsburgh-researchers-link-social-determinants-pandemic-disease

University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill: Researchers from UNC have developed a new genetic strain of mice that will significantly improve opportunities to test the initial efficacy of potential Ebola vaccines and treatments. Also, in collaboration with NC State University, UNC is providing surge capacity in the NC Department of Public Health’s Ebola call center.

For more information: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/early/2014/10/29/science.1259595.full

http://cphp.sph.unc.edu/teamepiaid/index.htm

University of Pittsburgh: Dr. Supriya Kumar, research assistant professor of behavioural and community health sciences in the Graduate School of Public Health, illustrated the ways social determinants including poverty, race, ethnicity, social marginalization, and physical environment contribute to differential exposure, susceptibility to infectious disease, and access to care and treatment once exposed.

For more information:http://www.publichealth.pitt.edu/home/directory/supriya-kumar

University of South Florida: Dr. Heather Clayton, 2010 College of Public Health PhD graduate, deployed to Sierra Leone this fall as part of the CDC’s role in the Ebola outbreak response.

For more information: http://hscweb3.hsc.usf.edu/health/publichealth/news/ebola-deployment-lasting-life-experience-dr-heather-clayton/

University of Texas: UTHealth’s safety expert Dr. Robert Emery has been leading efforts to reinforce the training of UTHealth clinical staff as well as students regarding PPE worn and techniques used when handling patients with infectious diseases, such as Ebola.

For more information:http://abc13.com/news/houston-hospitals-practice-drills-for-ebola/343900/

University of Texas Medical Branch: State leaders have contacted UTMB to learn from our world-class research on the Ebola virus and our expertise in caring for patients with infectious diseases. Authorities also have requested that UTMB stand ready, if necessary, to provide direct assistance in addressing Ebola infections and related medical waste in Texas.

For more information: http://www.utmb.edu/president/communications/messages/archive.aspx?i=93

University of Washington: Dr. Elizabeth Halloran, professor of biostatistics at the University of Washington School of Public Health, received a five-year, $12.5 million grant to head a center at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center to track infectious diseases.

For more information: http://www.fredhutch.org/en/news/center-news/2014/09/MIDAS-touch-Fred-Hutch-center-to-play-key-role-in-global-disease.html

Yale: Scientists from Yale School of Public Health and Liberia created a disease transmission model that uses epidemiological and clinical data from Liberia, the country hardest hit by the current outbreak. After

For more information: http://news.yale.edu/2014/10/28/lessons-liberia-targeted-patient-isolation-could-stem-ebola-epidemic

Preparedness Centers Ebola Resources

Harvard School of Public Health Preparedness and Emergency Response Learning Center

National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health

South Central Preparedness and Emergency Response Learning Center, University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health

University of South Florida College of Public Health Preparedness and Emergency Response Learning Center

Upper Midwest Preparedness and Emergency Response Learning Center, University of Iowa College of Public Health

ASPPH/CDC Fellows’ Ebola Response Activities

ASPPH/CDC Public Health Fellows

ASPPH/CDC Allan Rosenfield Global Health Fellows

In addition, many ASPPH/CDC fellows are taking on regular duties for CDC FTE colleagues who have been deployed for Ebola response.