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Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists Annual Conference Begins June 7 in Buffalo, NY

Novel H1N1 Influenza A Response among Key Conference Components

BUFFALO, N.Y., June 5, /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) 2009 Annual Conference will be held June 7-11 at the Buffalo-Niagara Convention Center in Buffalo, New York. This year's conference will focus on priority public health issues including the ongoing response to novel H1N1 influenza A.

"The 2009 conference theme, 'Evidence-based Public Health in Challenging Times,' is particularly appropriate given the continuing uncertainty over H1N1," said CSTE President Perry Smith, M.D. "Although to date the new virus has produced illness in the U.S. with symptoms similar to seasonal flu, the concern is that the virus may reemerge in the fall in a more potent form. While no one can be certain what will happen, epidemiologists everywhere will be closely scrutinizing patterns and trends in disease progression and transmission to help predict the future course of the outbreak and develop measures to mitigate the impact."

Several conference sessions will be devoted to influenza, including a workshop aimed at improving flu surveillance, a vaccine update and an H1N1 status report from scientists who are leading the outbreak response at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and in New York City and the State.

Along with influenza, the 2009 conference will include numerous other presentations of recent research into important issues of infectious disease, chronic disease and environmental and occupational health. Among these are studies that examine risks such as healthcare acquired infections and carbon monoxide poisoning following storm-related power outages.

"Although our attention currently is focused on flu, other critical public health problems remain. Injuries, healthcare associated infections, tobacco use, alcohol and other substance abuse, lack of physical activity and poor nutrition continue to be major contributors to illness and death, as well as major drivers of healthcare costs," CSTE President-elect Melvin Kohn, M.D., M.P.H. said. "Approximately 70% of deaths from all causes each year are preventable, and epidemiologists guide efforts to address these other health threats, just as they do for H1N1 flu."

The CSTE conference offers members an opportunity to share their research, broaden their knowledge, and -- together -- improve the science and practice of applied epidemiology to enhance people's health.

"CSTE as an organization and our individual members are committed to rigorous research, data exchange and evidence-based public health practices that reduce the burden of familiar health threats and emerging diseases alike," Dr. Smith said.

Highlights of the 2009 CSTE conference include:

Public Health as First Responders, moderated by Laurene Mascola of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. This session is scheduled for Monday June 8, the first full day of the conference, and will include an H1N1 update with speakers including Richard Besser, Acting Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Director of CDC's Coordinating Office for Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response.

Other conference sessions will highlight research into improving influenza surveillance, health surveillance following natural disasters, and responding to the healthcare acquired infection epidemic, among others.

CSTE is a professional association of more than 1,050 public health epidemiologists working in states, local health agencies, and territories. CSTE works to establish more effective relationships among state and other health agencies. It also provides technical advice and assistance to partner organizations, such as the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), and to federal public health agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). CSTE members have surveillance and epidemiology expertise in a broad range of areas including occupational health, infectious diseases, immunization, environmental health, chronic diseases, injury control, and maternal and child health. CSTE's work is an important step in ensuring a well prepared and competent public health workforce.

SOURCE Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists
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