Burton Wilke smilingThe Control of Communicable Diseases Manual, 20th Edition, is the latest version of a century-old international resource — the APHA bible on infection control. Now, CCDM has a companion.

Called Control of Communicable Diseases: Laboratory Practice, this new book from APHA Press helps further build the world’s capacity to detect and respond to communicable disease threats.

Public Health Newswire recently spoke with Laboratory Practice editor and APHA member Burton W. Wilcke Jr., PhD, about the new title and its importance. Wilcke is associate professor emeritus with the Department of Biomedical and Health Sciences at the University of Vermont.

He is a past president of the Association of Public Health Laboratories, former chair of the CDC’s Clinical Laboratory Improvement Advisory Committee and currently sits on the American Board of Bioanalysis.

Q: What are Laboratory Practice’s origins, audience and objectives?

A: The control and prevention of communicable diseases requires the knowledge, skills and expertise of several public health disciplines, but the two essential ones are epidemiology and laboratory science. CCDM has traditionally been authored by experts in the field of epidemiology. While laboratory-related information has always been included, there was a need for more information on the vital role that laboratory science plays.

Global disease expert David Heymann, MD, editor of the CCDM 20th edition, and I decided that a complementary volume should focus on laboratory practice. Laboratory Practice is meant to be a resource for laboratory scientists, of course, but also is of great value for epidemiologists, disease control specialists, health care providers and others who need to understand the laboratory’s role in the control and prevention of the important diseases covered.

Q: Why is a lab version of CCDM necessary, and why now?Cover of Control of Communicable Diseases: Laboratory Practice

A: The laboratory role in communicable disease control and prevention has continued to increase over the years. With the ever-expanding number of emerging infectious diseases — and with the ever-present potential for rapid international spread — it is imperative that laboratories be prepared, no matter what the disease and no matter what their location.

The World Health Assembly determined in 2005 that all countries should have core laboratory capabilities to aid in the response to communicable disease threats anywhere on the globe. Laboratory Practice will help laboratories determine their state of readiness to respond to communicable disease threats.

Q: How will Laboratory Practice strengthen public health capacity to prevent and control disease?

A: Laboratory Practice covers a wide range of topics that are important in the control and prevention of communicable diseases. These include information on basic methods of testing, but also on bio-safety, quality assurance, bio informatics and laboratory-based surveillance. Laboratory Practice features chapters written about each of these subjects and more. It also covers each of these areas within each disease-specific chapter.

Q: What are the biggest disease threats to public health today?

A: Some of the biggest communicable disease threats we face today are emerging infectious diseases, increased zoonotic (animal to human) transmission of disease, vector-borne diseases, antimicrobial resistance and the use of bio-threat agents as a form of terrorism. Laboratory Practice covers all of these threats.

Q: Do rare and unusual disease outbreaks in the recent past indicate more in our future?

A: If we have learned anything about communicable diseases during the last few decades, it is that disease outbreaks caused by microbes will continue to create challenges for the medical and public health communities going forward. We must continue to be vigilant and make certain that we have all of the necessary systems in place to deal with communicable disease outbreaks.

One of those vital systems is the laboratory system, which is comprised of clinical, public health, food, animal and environmental laboratories. All laboratories within these systems will benefit from the information included in Laboratory Practice.

Control of Communicable Diseases: Laboratory Practice, ISBN: 978-0-87553-285-1, softcover, 750 pages, list price: $99 plus handling (APHA member price: $69). To order, call toll-free 888-320-APHA, email apha@pbd.com or visit www.aphabookstore.org.