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Faculty & Staff Honors

Faculty & Staff Honors

Temple Professor Joins CDC Panel on Waterborne Pathogens

Temple University College of Public Health Assistant Professor Dr. Heather Murphy joined a national panel of experts in food- and waterborne illness lending their expertise at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in a study to attribute illnesses to various pathways.

[Photo: Dr. Heather Murphy and students at Cobbs Creek, Philadelphia, 2016]

The Structured Expert Judgement (SEJ) held May 23 and 24 by the University of Florida and the CDC examined attribution of food- and waterborne diseases in the United States to major modes of transmission including food, water, person-to-person, animal contact, and the environment. The 50-member panel attributed illnesses from about 15 pathogens such as Salmonella. This type of expert study is used to provide estimates when limited data is available. Their work is expected to deepen understanding of the modes of transmission associated with food- and waterborne pathogens, improve the prevention of these diseases, and guide policy decisions.

Dr. Murphy, an assistant professor in the department of epidemiology and biostatistics, was invited because of her background in quantifying disease burden associated with specific waterborne pathogens in Canada.

“Waterborne diseases are grossly underreported, and – because cases of illness are often sporadic and not always linked to an outbreak – what we see in surveillance is not representative of the actual disease burden in the population,” Dr. Murphy said. “The work of the SEJ is important because we need to understand routes of transmission for various diseases in order to inform interventions. I was thrilled that the CDC invited me to be an expert and that they recognize the importance of the work I am doing in Pennsylvania and how it is relevant to the rest of the U.S.”