All Hands on Deck! Geospatial Partnerships and Public Health Investigations


All Hands on Deck! [Jared] Hello, I’m Lieutenant Commander
Jared Rispens. I am an Epidemic
Intelligence Service Officer, and member of the United
States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps,
assigned to VSP, or the Vessel Sanitation
Program. VSP helps the cruise
ship industry prevent and control the introduction,
transmission, and spread of gastrointestinal
or GI illnesses. [Amy] And I’m Dr. Amy Lavery. I am an EIS Officer with GRASP,
or the Geospatial Research, Analysis, and Services Program. GRASP is a group dedicated to
applying geospatial science, technology, and data
visualization to address public
health problems. We collaborate with
partners across CDC to study patterns associated
with environmental health, infectious and chronic disease, public health emergencies,
and injuries. CDC and ATSDR use GIS, or
geographic information systems, to investigate disease outbreaks or other public health
threats as they emerge. The role of GIS during public
health investigations advances CDC’s efforts to stop
outbreaks as they occur in the US, overseas, or at sea. The GRASP and VSP
partnership is important because we’re applying
geospatial science and technology to
enhance traditional public health investigations. [Jared] GI illnesses can
be challenging to control on cruise ships because of
the close living quarters, shared dining areas, and
rapid turnover of passengers. When a ship docks,
illnesses can get on board through contaminated
food or water, or by passengers
infected while ashore. Outbreak investigations are
important to stop illness from spreading from
one voyage to another. We use a surveillance system to observe GI illness
patterns on cruise ships. We determine the magnitude
of illness aboard the ship, the pathogen causing
the illness, and the risk factors
associated with the illness, and then we recommend
control measures to prevent the illness
or stop the spread. [Amy] In 2018, we
piloted ways to use GIS to understand cruise ship
outbreaks in time and space, meaning when and where
an outbreak occurred. Using GIS, we developed
3-dimensional models of the cruise ship. We then used these 3-D
models to map rooms that had sick passengers
and observed where sick passengers
were on the ship over the length of the voyage. The 3D model of the cruise
ship enabled CDC investigators to identify links and
patterns in the outbreak by providing a more
realistic visual presentation of the outbreak from
multiple perspectives. [Jared] CDC also
used GIS to look for important spatial patterns
during a cruise ship outbreak, such as a cluster of
rooms with sick people. GIS enabled CDC to see
spatial patterns more clearly than we could using
traditional methods. [Amy] These investigations
illustrate the powerful way geospatial science and technology can
advance CDC’s response to outbreaks on cruise ships. [Jared] To learn more, please
visit the CDC/ATSDR website.

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