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Applied Environmental Health and Communicable Disease Epidemiology in Queensland




Coffey, Cushla

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My placement was with the Health Protection Branch at Queensland Health during 2017-2018. I focused on the following four projects relating to environmental health and communicable disease. I undertook an evaluation of the Queensland excessive blood lead surveillance system. Occupational and environmental exposure to lead remains a serious public health problem in Queensland due to the irreversible neurological, cognitive and behavioural health effects and ongoing exposure of lead through workplace exposure. A mixed research methodology was employed. As a subsection of the project, the Mount Isa capillary blood lead screening program was also reviewed and executive summary presented. I conducted an outbreak project on the enhanced communicable disease surveillance system implemented during the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games (the Games). The Emergency Department Syndromic Surveillance System (EDSSS) and electronic questionnaire implemented during the Games were useful in identifying gastrointestinal (GI) illness unusual trends and potential outbreaks for further investigation. Two GI outbreaks detected during the Games and following through the enhanced surveillance system and EDSSS are reported as case studies. Giardiasis is the most common intestinal parasitic disease of humans identified in the United States (US) and an important waterborne disease. As part of a research visit with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, I completed a data analysis project describing the evolving epidemiology of US giardiasis cases for 1995-2016 using National Notifiable Disease Surveillance System data. Nontuberculosis mycobacteria (NTM) are opportunistic pathogens associated with environmental sources such as municipal and recreational water sources. I conducted an epidemiological investigation to: describe the trends in NTM in Queensland between 2002-2017; trends in water disinfectant in selected reservoir zones in Brisbane 2012-2016; and examine potential associations between selected Brisbane areas where there is a higher rate of NTM and lower disinfectant concentrations, 2012-2016.






Thesis (MPhil)

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Open Access

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