Oscar AlleyneIt’s National Public Health Week! We’re spotlighting the daily themes of the week with a series of guest blogs from APHA members. Tuesday’s NPHW theme was communicable disease and our guest blog is by E. Oscar Alleyne, DrPH, MPH, senior advisor for public health programs with the National Association of County and City Health Officials. He is past president of the board of directors of the New York State Public Health Association, past president of the Alpha Gamma Chapter of the Delta Omega Honorary Society in Public Health and immediate past chair of APHA’s Epidemiology Section.

The world of communicable diseases can seem daunting for some and exciting for others. The latter is usually said with a smile by those who are engaged in careers in infectious diseases and preventing their impacts. National Public Health Week gives us a chance to showcase the tremendous work of the dedicated professionals who are often the unsung heroes in the realm of health, wellness and safety. Microbes have had tremendous effect on our lives. Whether we are faced with vaccine preventable illnesses, arboviral diseases, antimicrobial resistance, or sexually transmitted or novel emerging infections, the ability for public health to respond can be both complex and intriguing.

Dedicated to the frontline battle for a strong one health alliance are microbiologists, virologists, health educators, public health nurses, biostatisticians, community health workers, disease intervention specialists, physicians, epidemiologists, geographic information system analysts, health IT technicians, environmental health and lab technicians, to name a few. Each plays an essential role in supporting a comprehensive health system of detection, defense, response and recovery. It is through their efforts that we have seen eradication of some diseases in the world, alongside an alertness of upcoming threats to our future.

In our current climate, there has been a cross over into the non-communicable world as well. Recent calls for better surveillance of the hepatitis B virus (HBV), HCV and HIV as increases in injection drug use stemming from the opioid epidemic present new challenges, particularly in rural and suburban communities. The breakthroughs in treatment of HIV have almost regulated its management to that of a level of chronic diseases. The recent Zika outbreak also illustrated how communicable diseases can interface with maternal and child health as the risk of infection included potential birth defects in infants. Therefore the need to inform and identify travelers, perform clinician outreach, provide screening and testing services on the risk of Zika exposure in the community was an unlimited one of a combined population health approach.

So whether it is the seasonal flu, or errant measles infection or a new emerging threat, you can rest assured that Team Public Health is on the case to protect you and your family and provide an opportunity for all to have healthy and productive lives.

To learn more about National Public Health Week and get involved, visit www.nphw.org.