The July issue of the Journal of Public Health Management & Practice (JPHMP) opens by highlighting two of our most pressing public health challenges: Zika and lead toxicity in Flint, Michigan. Jeffrey Engel, Director of the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists and editorial board member, contributes an editorial "Of Mosquito Nets and Condoms: The Zika Virus Challenge." The Zika virus causes infections in pregnant women resulting in congenital disease characterized by encephalitis, encephalopathy, microcephaly, and various other congenital defects. Engel points out that this emerging Flavivirus infectious disease problem with more than one transmission mode (mosquito bites and sexual transmission) complicates a public health response. The dual transmission avenues necessitate a unique preventive intervention for pregnant women: kits with a combination of mosquito bed nets, mosquito larvicide, and condoms.
The ASTHO State of Public Health column, published with every issue of JPHMP, also targets this problem. In "Public Health Acts to Detect, Respond to, And Prevent the Latest Public Health Threat--Zika Virus Disease," authors Meredith Allen and James Blumenstock, point out that the United States is facing an unprecedented threat requiring a societal response with strong leadership at all levels. Because diminished funding is eroding public health infrastructure, this crisis is heightened, increasing our vulnerability to this emerging disease.
Indeed, as this issue goes to press, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting that at least 279 pregnant women in the US and its territories have been infected with the Zika virus. This includes all women who have tested positive for the virus whether or not they developed symptoms or complications in their pregnancies. Most of these women were infected in countries where Zika is being transmitted by mosquitoes, including Brazil, but a small number in the US are believed to be infected via sexual contact. There is the potential this summer for thousands of infections in Puerto Rico. States in the American South are also at risk. President Obama has called for $1.9 million in funds to fight Zika. The Senate and House are currently embroiled in debates over the amount of funds that will be committed to this public health emergency.
David Jacobs, Chief Scientist at the National Center for Healthy Housing and of the University of Illinois School of Public Health, a leading expert in childhood lead poisoning, proposes a three-point plan to identify and eliminate sources of lead exposure nationwide in his editorial "Lead Poisoning: Focusing on a Fix." He writes: "Infuriating, frustrating, saddening, racism… only a few of the words to describe the reactions from the public health community and the public at large to the news of the lead in drinking water debacle in Flint, Michigan." The three-point plan suggests (1) Find It. Comprehensive programs are needed to increase testing for lead in homes and pipes as well as increased screening for children. (2) Fix it. Initiate corrective action with proven interim methods and long-term full scale programs to eliminate all lead in drinking water pipes and lead paint in residences. And (3) Fund it. Demand accountability from companies producing lead products, requiring them to share the remediation costs, and push for more investment from Congress.
Two articles in this issue also focus on the problem of lead toxicity: "Lead Testing in a Pediatric Population" by Andrew Knighton and "Making Homes Healthy" by Edward Coyle.
The theme of the July issue is Engaging Communities in Health. In addition to the community health challenges already described, a series of articles is included on promoting policy and environmental change to support health in a variety of venues, from encouraging healthy nutrition to endorsing physical activity at the workplace, municipal parks, and elsewhere.
Finally, we would like to call the reader's attention to two articles on communicating science at CDC written by Coronado et al. and Iskander et al. These articles illustrate the impact JPHMP is having on CDC and EIS experts who are increasingly relying on our journal as a vehicle for publication and as a rich source of downloadable articles informing their work.
Lloyd F. Novick, MD, MPH Justin B. Moore, PhD, MS
Editor-in-Chief Associate Editor
Editorial: Immunization Information Systems
Four articles on immunization information systems have been published ahead of print (PAP) by the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice. Two of these articles report the findings of a recent systematic review by the Community Preventive Services Task Force. A third article, a Practice Brief Report, provides “Recommendations for use of Immunization Information Systems to Increase Vaccination Rates.” A fourth article, from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, by Daniel Martin “Immunization Information Systems: A Decade of Progress in Law and Policy” is a study of laws, regulations and policies governing Immunization Information Systems (IIS), also known as immunization registries.
Here are the links to each article and the editorial that accompanies them:
Immunization Information Systems to Increase Vaccination Rates: A Community Guide Systematic Review
Economic Review of Immunization Information Systems to Increase Vaccination Rates: A Community Guide Systematic Review
Recommendation for Use of Immunization Information Systems to Increase Vaccination Rates
Immunization Information Systems: A Decade of Progress in Law and Policy