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Shah Umair


West Nile virus (WNV) is the leading cause of autochthonous arboviral disease in the United States. The virus is primarily spread to people through the bite of infected Culex species of mosquitos. WNV was first identified in Harris County, Texas, in 20022. Since then, the mosquito-borne virus has become endemic in the region, with surges in 2012 and 2014. Although majority of individuals infected are asymptomatic, WNV induced neuroinvasive infections often result in hospitalizations and adverse outcomes3-7, thus may pose a significant concern in public health and healthcare. The Harris County Public Health (HCPH) Surveillance and Epidemiology Unit (SEU) conducts surveillance of WNV in humans, in collaboration with Mosquito and Vector Control Division (MVCD) that monitors the virus in mosquito populations and birds. Mosquito abatement activities are implemented in areas where positive mosquitoes and human cases are identified. In this integrated model, clusters of WNV positive mosquito pools in relation with human cases provide comprehensive surveillance data to guide targeted efforts of mosquito control, disease prevention, and community education.

Objective: This abstract aims to: 1) describe human WNV infections in Harris County excluding the City of Houston, Texas, 2003 to 2018; 2) explore geographical distributions of WNV positive mosquito pools in relation to human cases; 3) provide a brief overview of the county's rigorous multidisciplinary WNV surveillance and control in mosquitoes and humans.

Submitted by elamb on

Hurricane Harvey made landfall along the Texas coast on August 25th, 2017 as a Category 4 storm. It is estimated that the ensuing rainfall caused record flooding of at least 18 inches in 70% of Harris County. Over 30,000 residents were displaced and 50 deaths occurred due to the devastation. At least 53 temporary refuge shelters opened in various parts of Harris County to accommodate displaced residents. On the evening of August 29th, Harris County and community partners set up a 10,000 bed mega-shelter at NRG Center, in efforts to centralize refuge efforts. Harris County Public Health (HCPH) was responsible for round-the-clock surveillance to monitor resident health status and prevent communicable disease outbreaks within the mega-shelter. This was accomplished through direct and indirect resident health assessments, along with coordinated prevention and disease control efforts. Despite HCPH’s 20-day active response, and identification of two relatively small but potentially worrisome communicable disease outbreaks, no large-scale disease outbreaks occurred within the NRG Center mega-shelter.


1) Describe HCPH’s disease surveillance and prevention activities within the NRG Center mega-shelter;

2) Present surveillance findings with an emphasis on sharing tools that were developed and may be utilized for future disaster response efforts;

3) Discuss successes achieved, challenges encountered, and lessons learned from this emergency response.

Submitted by elamb on

Transmission of infectious diseases became an immediate public health concern when approximately 27,000 New Orleans-area residents evacuated to Houston's Astrodome and Reliant Park Complex following Hurricane Katrina. This article presents a surveillance system that was rapidly developed and implemented for daily tracking of various symptoms in the evacuee population in the Astrodome “megashelter.” This system successfully confirmed an outbreak of acute gastroenteritis and became a critical tool in monitoring the course of this outbreak.


Submitted by uysz on