The Community Epidemiology Program provides analytic support to the Communicable Disease Prevention and Control Program. The communicable disease epidemiologist’s activities include developing communicable disease data summaries to describe current communicable disease burden in Marin County and improving data quality of the confidential reportable communicable disease data submitted to the California Department of Public Health. Other roles include coordinating foodborne outbreak investigations and supporting the data management component of other large investigations. Additionally, the epidemiologist completes communicable disease-related data requests from internal and external partners.
Preventing chronic disease involves many partners and a spectrum of activities as the causes are multi-factorial and go beyond health care and traditional public health approaches. This includes preventing disease from occurring as well as decreasing the severity and impact of a condition once it occurs. The Community Epidemiology Program provides analytic support to non-communicable Health and Human Services programs. Activities may include providing technical assistance for data collection and needs assessments, tracking and analyzing available data, and completing data requests from internal and external partners.
HIV infection and AIDS are mandatorily reportable conditions. The HIV/AIDS Surveillance Coordinator/Epidemiologist works with laboratories and healthcare providers to identify cases that must be reported and gather the information required. This information is maintained in a statewide database by the Office of AIDS (OA). Quarterly datasets from OA are analyzed by the HIV/AIDS Surveillance Coordinator/Epidemiologist to describe the current state of the epidemic in Marin County and to identify trends among new cases. These data are distributed through annual fact sheets which can be found on healthymarin.org. Data requests from other HHS programs and community organizations are completed to help inform program planning and resource allocation.
For many years, Marin County had breast cancer rates that were higher than those in surrounding areas, California, and/or the nation. The Epidemiology Program was formed in response to community concerns about these high rates. The Epidemiology Program started and maintained collaborations with local researchers and advocates to obtain the information necessary to understand breast cancer in Marin. The largest internal breast cancer research project is the Marin Women’s Study (MWS), begun in 2006. The MWS collected data from Marin women receiving mammograms. Marin women contributed data by filling out questionnaires and donating saliva samples. These confidential data continue to be used in investigations of breast health by Epidemiology Program staff as well as by external researchers from institutions such as UCSF. In addition to continued work on the MWS, Epidemiology Program staff work with the Cancer Prevention Institute of California (CPIC) to monitor trends in breast cancer incidence and mortality. These data are distributed publicly and posted on healthymarin.org, discussed with local media outlets, and published in scientific journals.