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Concept: Environmental health officer


An outbreak of salmonellosis occurred following attendance at a school camp between 5 and 8 August 2014 in a remote area of the Northern Territory, Australia. We conducted a retrospective cohort study via telephone interviews, using a structured questionnaire that recorded symptoms and exposures to foods and activities during the camp. A case was anyone with laboratory confirmed Salmonella Saintpaul infection or a clinically compatible illness after attending the camp. Environmental health officers from the Environmental Health Branch undertook an investigation and collected water and environmental samples. We interviewed 65 (97%) of the 67 people who attended the camp. There were 60 students and 7 adults. Of the 65 people interviewed, 30 became ill (attack rate 46%); all were students; and 4 had laboratory confirmed S. Saintpaul infection. The most commonly reported symptoms were diarrhoea (100% 30/30), abdominal pain (93% 28/30), nausea (93% 28/30) and fever (70% 21/30). Thirteen people sought medical attention but none required hospitalisation. Illness was significantly associated with drinking cordial at lunch on 7 August (RR 3.8, 95% CI 1.3-11, P < 0.01), as well as drinking cordial at lunch on 8 August (RR 2.1, 95% CI 1.1-4.2, P=0.01). Salmonella spp. was not detected in water samples or wallaby faeces collected from the camp ground. The epidemiological investigation suggests the outbreak was caused by environmental contamination of food or drink and could have occurred during ice preparation or storage, preparation of the cordial or from inadequate sanitising of the cooler from which the cordial was served. This outbreak highlights the risks of food or drink contamination with environmental Salmonella. Those preparing food and drink in campground settings should be vigilant with cleaning, handwashing and disinfection to prevent outbreaks of foodborne disease.

Concepts: Diarrhea, Environmental health officer, Illness, Cohort study, Epidemiology, Gastroenteritis, Salmonella, Foodborne illness


Public health, like politics, is the art of the possible. To maximize effectiveness, public health officers in any jurisdiction should (1) get good data and ensure timely and effective dissemination; (2) prioritize and tackle more difficult initiatives first; (3) find, fight, and win winnable battles in areas where progress is possible but not ensured without focused, strategic effort; (4) support and hire great people and protect them so they can do their jobs; (5) address communicable diseases and environmental health effectively; (6) do not cede the clinical realm-public health programs depend on clinical care and on effective coordination between health care and public health; (7) learn and manage the budget cycle; (8) manage the context; (9) never surprise their boss; and (10) follow core principles. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print May 19, 2016: e1-e5. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2016.303204).

Concepts: Health economics, Environmental health officer, Public health, Medicine, Health, Epidemiology, Clinical trial, Health care


Foodborne illness is a global public health issue, with food handling in the home identified as an underestimated source. In Australia, there has been a significant increase in the incidence of salmonellosis with the majority of outbreaks linked to eggs. This study investigated Australian eggs consumer attitudes, behaviours and risk perceptions associated with the handling of raw eggs in the home. It was identified that 67% of participants chose free range eggs, 11% kept poultry, 7% did not have any preference, 7% cage eggs, 4% barn eggs, 2% organic eggs and 1% pasteurized eggs. The majority of participants (91%) reported they stored eggs in the fridge. It was identified that there is an underestimation of “risky behaviour” associated with the consumption of raw eggs in the home, as 84% of participants indicated that they did not consume raw eggs, but subsequently 86% indicated that they had eaten mixture/batter containing raw eggs. Participants' responses relating to food safety were also examined in relation to their profession and gender. Safer food handling practices were identified by Environmental Health Officers (EHO) and Food handlers compared to all other professions (p < 0.05). However, the gender of participants did not significantly affect (p > 0.05) their responses.

Concepts: Illness, Food, Health, Salmonella, Environmental health officer, Public health, Foodborne illness, Food safety


In June 2015, an outbreak of salmonellosis occurred among people who had eaten at a restaurant in Darwin, Northern Territory over 2 consecutive nights. We conducted a retrospective cohort study of diners who ate at the restaurant on 19 and 20 June 2015. Diners were telephoned and a questionnaire recorded symptoms and menu items consumed. An outbreak case was defined as anyone with laboratory confirmed Salmonella Typhimurium PT9 (STm9) or a clinically compatible illness after eating at the restaurant. Environmental health officers inspected the premises and collected food samples. We contacted 79/83 of the cohort (response rate 95%); 21 were cases (attack rate 27%), and 9 had laboratory confirmed STm9 infection. The most commonly reported symptoms were diarrhoea (100%), abdominal pain (95%), fever (95%) and nausea (95%). Fifteen people sought medical attention and 7 presented to hospital. The outbreak was most likely caused by consumption of duck prosciutto, which was consumed by all cases (OR 18.6, CI 3.0-∞, P < 0.01) and was prepared on site. Salmonella was not detected in any food samples but a standard plate count of 2 x 10(7) colony forming units per gram on samples of duck prosciutto demonstrated bacterial contamination. The restaurant used inappropriate methodology for curing the duck prosciutto. Restaurants should consider purchasing pre-made cured meats, or if preparing them on site, ensure that they adhere to safe methods of production.

Concepts: 1984 Rajneeshee bioterror attack, Environmental health officer, Restaurant, Gastroenteritis, Eating, Salmonella, Epidemiology, Cohort study


On January 29, 2015, the city of Tampere environmental health officers were informed of a possible foodborne outbreak among customers who had eaten lunch in restaurant X. Employees of electric companies A and B had a sudden onset of gastrointestinal symptoms. We conducted a retrospective cohort study to identify the vehicle, source, and causative agent of the outbreak. A case was defined as an employee of companies A or B with diarrhea and/or vomiting who ate lunch at Restaurant X on January 26, 2015. All employees of the companies attending the implicated lunch were invited to participate in the cohort study. Environmental investigation was conducted. Twenty-one responders were included in statistical analysis, of which 11 met with the case definition. Of the 15 food items consumed by participants, four food items were associated with gastroenteritis. Of four kitchen staff, three tested positive for norovirus GIP7, the strain was found earlier in the community. No patient samples were obtained. Level of hygiene in the kitchen was inadequate. Infected kitchen staff probably transmitted norovirus by inadequate hygiene practices. No new cases associated with Restaurant X were reported after the hygiene practices were improved.

Concepts: Norovirus, Diarrhea, Food, Environmental health officer, Epidemiology, Hygiene, Cohort study, Gastroenteritis


Policies and programs are needed to mitigate the burden of enteric disease in Canada. Source attribution, a goal of FoodNet Canada, can inform such strategies and can be accomplished with the information provided by expert opinion. This includes environmental health officers' (EHOs) opinions on the “most likely source of infection” (MLSI) of confirmed cases of enteric disease that are investigated by the Fraser Health Authority in British Columbia, FoodNet Canada’s second sentinel site.

Concepts: Critical thinking, Canada, Cariboo, Lower Mainland, Vancouver, Environmental health officer, Coquitlam, British Columbia


Assistant environmental health officers (AEHO) are health care providers (HCPs) who act as enforcers, educators and trusted role models for the public. This is the first study to explore smoking behaviour and attitudes toward tobacco control among future HCPs. Almost 30% of AEHO trainees did not know the role of AEHOs in counselling smokers to stop smoking, but 91% agreed they should not smoke before advising others not to do so. The majority agreed that tobacco control regulations may be used as a means of reducing the prevalence of smoking. Future AEHOs had positive attitudes toward tobacco regulations but lacked understanding of their responsibility in tobacco control measures.

Concepts: Health care provider, Environmental health, Nicotine, Health, Tobacco smoking, Public health, Health care, Environmental health officer


Remotely reporting electronic sensors offer the potential to reduce bias in monitoring use of environmental health interventions. In the context of a five-month randomized controlled trial of household water filters and improved cookstoves in rural Rwanda, we collected data from intervention households on product compliance using (i) monthly surveys and direct observations by community health workers and environmental health officers, and (ii) sensor-equipped filters and cookstoves deployed for about two weeks in each household. The adoption rate interpreted by the sensors varied from the household reporting. 96.5% of households reported primarily using the intervention stove, while the sensors interpreted 73.2% use. 90.2% of households reported using the intervention filter regularly, while the sensors interpreted no more than 90.2%. The sensor-collected data estimated use to be lower than conventionally-collected data both for water filters (approximately 36% less water volume per day) and cookstoves (approximately 40% fewer uses per week). An evaluation of intra-household consistency in use suggests that households are not using their filters or stoves on an exclusive basis, and may be both drinking untreated water at times and using other stoves (“stove-stacking”). These results provide additional evidence that surveys and direct observation may exaggerate compliance with household-based environmental interventions.

Concepts: Stove, Household, Health care, Environmental health officer, Observation, Randomized controlled trial


Since the Victorian public health acts, the now named environmental health practitioner (EHP) (previously public health inspector or environmental health officer) has been pivotal in providing healthier housing through a range of policy initiatives and legislative requirements. The role of the practitioner has changed substantially in the past decade, particularly as the public health and well-being agendas have brought focus to the socio-economic determinants of health, including housing, with a renewed vision of tackling the most acute health inequalities through evidence-based practice and taking a population-based approach. The now established Housing Health and Safety Rating System has enabled a far greater focus on evidence than previously. However, for many households on low incomes living in owner-occupied and privately rented housing the situation is inequitable and, for many, has negative health effects. The private-sector housing renewal budget has been discontinued and the allied housing and social care resource has been cut. As a result, EHPs and colleagues need to promote the importance of their work at every opportunity as Public Health England came into being in 2013 and public health has been transferred from the National Health Service to local authorities. This presents both opportunities and challenges in demonstrating the effectiveness of housing strategies and interventions by fine-tuning arguments for securing greater resources through joint strategic needs assessments presented to health and well-being boards.

Concepts: Health disparities, Health economics, Environmental health officer, Environmental health, Population health, Health, Health care, Public health


BACKGROUND: In October 2009, a dual-pathogen outbreak of Campylobacter and Salmonella occurred in which 59 cases were identified among guests attending a regional conference in the North of England. The mean symptomatic period was 5.4 days ( confidence intervals: 4.4-6.4), and over 84% of the cases had abdominal pain and diarrhoea. METHODS: A retrospective cohort study was used to investigate the outbreak, and active case-finding was performed through the conference organizers and environmental health officers. A focused questionnaire was distributed to all guests via the event organizers 10 days after the conference. RESULTS: Response rate among guests was 61% (107/175). A cohort study was undertaken, and a strong association was found between illness and consumption of chicken liver pâté, supporting the hypothesis that chicken liver pâté was the most likely cause of the outbreak. CONCLUSION: This is the first mixed pathogen outbreak documented associated with the consumption of chicken liver pâté and adds to the evidence of potential hazards associated with the undercooking of poultry livers. A rapid outbreak investigation with collaboration between several organizations and the venue led to identification of the most probable source.

Concepts: Gastroenteritis, Statistics, Gallbladder, Meat, Diarrhea, Environmental health officer, Epidemiology, Cohort study