Maine CDC Press Release

January 28, 2014

Maine CDC Recognizes Efforts to Ward Off Infectious Disease

AUGUSTA – The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently recognized four organizations by presenting them with the Pump Handle Award for their contributions to help reduce the impact of infectious diseases in Maine.

Camp Sunshine was honored for its quick response to an outbreak viral gastroenteritis outbreak, which led to the containment of a highly contagious virus. The camp also worked closely with the Maine CDC epidemiology and health inspections programs, providing information that allowed for surveying, follow-up on test results, and strengthened outbreak response in the community.

Mercy Hospital was recognized for its response to a highly publicized case of a rabid fox in Portland and for its decision to immediately make medication for treatment for exposure available to other healthcare systems, which were seeing a high volume of people with symptoms. The hospital also cared for five people who were exposed to rabies.

The Bangor Sexually Transmitted Disease Clinic, one of two clinics in the State, has been instrumental in Maine’s ability to provide STD screening, treatment and disease surveillance in the Northern part of the state. The commitment and dedication of Clinic staff have helped many people living with HIV/AIDS know their status, get connected to important medical care and support services, and identify and test potential partners who may have been exposed to HIV.

The Maine School Nurses Association was chosen for the hard work and dedication of Maine’s school nurses, particularly for their dedication to organizing and operating Maine’s school located vaccine clinics. School Nurses responded to the need during H1N1 and have continued to assure availability of influenza immunization to students in the school setting because that is where children are and because as they have said, “it is the right thing to do.”

The Pump-Handle Award has been given for more than a decade in Maine. The award’s name is a tribute to Dr. John Snow, who is considered by many to be the father of epidemiological science. Snow identified that a public water pump was the source of a cholera outbreak in London in 1854. He convinced authorities to remove the handle of the pump, preventing any more of the infected water from being collected. The spring that fed the pump was later found to be contaminated.

“Maine CDC has long-held relationships with people across the state whose work helps prevent the spread of infectious disease,’’ said Dr. Stephen Sears, State Epidemiologist. “This award is just one small way to recognize and thank them for a job well done.”