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Environmental Health Specialists Network (ehs-net) - Practice Based Research to Improve Food Safety in New York State


The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) has been a leader in protecting and advancing the health of New Yorkers through a comprehensive network of public health activities and services. The complexity of the state, from densely populated urban, to rural and suburban areas, the diversity of the state with respect to race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status, warrants a public health system that is comprehensive and flexible to govern the state's public health successfully. Since the EHS-Net's inception in 2000, there have been a number of critical barriers to overcome. In regards to foodborne outbreak situations and environmental assessments, the geographic size of NYS can be challenging when coordinating a rapid and effective response. Over the past number of years, some state and local departments have experienced as much as a 30% reduction in staff due to retirements and attrition. To overcome these barriers, in part, the specific aims of this project involves engaging and strengthening the partnership with other State and local partners from environmental health, disease surveillance and laboratory authorities to improve environmental assessment data collection and foodborne disease outbreak investigations, establish and implement program evaluations and compare to national standards and disseminate educational materials to the public through a variety of mechanisms. This will allow Local Health Departments (LHDs) and State personnel from numerous agencies to apply best practices and interventions using national standards and new forms of technology identified by EHS-Net, the Council to Improve Foodborne Outbreak Response (CIFOR), Centers of Excellence and other Rapid Response Teams (RRT) to improve the overall health and safety of New Yorkers. The nature of outbreaks and investigations has changed considerably with the implementation of new laboratory techniques such as pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS). Sporadic cases of illness across many jurisdictions can now be linked to a common source by using PFGE technology and WGS, the complete DNA make-up of an organism can be determined to enable us to better understand variations both within and between species. These new technologies, including computerized sharing of information, will allow us to perform basic foodborne pathogen identification during foodborne illness outbreaks and apply it in novel ways that have the potential to help reduce foodborne illness. The use of these technologies and our collaboration across programs will improve investigations of illness clusters or outbreaks.

Blog, Debra S.
Health Research, Inc
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