MCHD attends training on how to respond to foodborne illness outbreak 05-22-24

May 22, 2024

MCHD attends training on how to respond to foodborne illness outbreak

MOBILE, Ala. — Several departments from the Mobile County Health Department took part in Epi-Ready Training on May 14-15 at the Alabama Department of Public Health’s Training Center in Prattville. Among those taking part were staff from Environmental Health, Infectious Disease & Outbreaks (ID&O), and Data Science.

“The seminar was a two-day course designed to prepare various departments responsible for investigating possible foodborne illness outbreaks,” said Dr. Derrick Scott, the Bureau Director of Environmental Health. “During an active foodborne illness complaint, knowing the latest strategies and techniques to mitigate the spread of disease and illness is very important.”

The training was funded through the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s (CDC) Epidemiology & Laboratory Capacity Cooperative Agreement and facilitated by the Tennessee Integrated Food Safety Centers of Excellence. Dr. Scott said the Tennessee team led participants on a journey of real-life foodborne illness investigation with case studies.

“This course would start with a pretest to test your current knowledge in investigating foodborne illness,” he said. “Immediately after the pretest, the class was plunged into the eight-module curriculum for the course. The main objectives of the eight models were to explore the importance of teamwork amongst epidemiology, environmental health, and the laboratory.

“The informational resources used in this course provided valuable insight into the importance of teamwork and the importance of a thorough foodborne illness investigative plan. The strategies and techniques discussed in this course will help in the fight to protect the public from food-borne illnesses.”

Also attending with Dr. Scott were Barbara Gibbs and Shamya Simpson with the ID&O team, along with Epidemiologist Tommie Walker with Data Science.

“The training was focused on collaborative workflow within each district. And how they function independently and together on outbreaks within the community and outside the jurisdiction,” Gibbs said. “MCHD’s ID&O team works closely with the Inspection Services team at MCHD when we have suspected illness within the community either based on a lab or signs and symptoms of individuals.

“There is specific data collected that goes into the Outbreak Management System and this is guided by information obtained on initial/potential outbreak completed by the nurse or investigator. Each part combines the pieces to the puzzle and helps us communicate with our team and other departments involved, like the CDC, FDA (Food & Drug Administration), et cetera.”