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Volume 11, Number 1—January 2005


Capacity of State and Territorial Health Agencies to Prevent Foodborne Illness

Richard E. Hoffman*Comments to Author , Jesse Greenblatt†, Bela T. Matyas‡, Donald J. Sharp§, Emilio Esteban¶, Knachelle Hodge*, and Arthur Liang§
Author affiliations: *Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, Atlanta, Georgia, USA; †New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, Concord, New Hampshire, USA; ‡Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA; §Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA; ¶U.S. Department of Agriculture, Alameda, California, USA

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Table 1

Capacity and operations of epidemiologic, laboratory, and environmental programs in state and territorial health departments

Question n % yes % no % not sure
Does the Epidemiology Office have the ability to receive electronic laboratory reporting of enteric diseases? 48 40 60
Do you routinely collect stool samples for testing? 47 98 2
Do you routinely collect vomitus for testing?

Do you have broadcast fax or email capability to: (list all that apply) 48
Other health departments within the state 88
Hospital infection control specialists 77
Hospital emergency rooms 54
Physicians 50
Other state health departments 40


Do you conduct syndromic surveillance for diarrheal disease? 48 15 77 8
Do you have adequate capacity to conduct an analytic epidemiologic investigation, i.e., case-control or cohort studies?
Does your agency have legal authority to:
Collect reports of suspected enteric diseases? 48 90 4 6
Perform on-the-spot emergency environmental/sanitation inspections? 48 85 4 10
Exclude sick or infected employees from food handling duties? 48 83 13 4
Share information related to foodborne outbreaks with federal agencies, e.g., USDA, FDA, and CDC?* 47 83 4 13
Close a food service facility? 48 81 15 4
Collect reports of clinical syndromes? 48 71 19 10
Embargo or condemn food? 47 66 11 23
Is there a regulation/statute specifically requiring submission of certain enteric isolates to the public health laboratory? 48 54 38 8
Does the department of health have a protocol to guarantee chain of custody for food environmental specimens? 48 35 48 17

*USDA, United States Department of Agriculture; FDA, Food and Drug Administration; CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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