Maine CDC Press Release

November 30, 2011

Maine CDC Recognizes Efforts to Ward off Infectious Disease

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

Kirk Doing, PhD, D, Director of Clinical and Molecular Microbiology of Affiliated Laboratory Inc. in Bangor, was honored for his lab’s tireless energy to perform additional testing for widespread community transmission of pertussis in Penobscot County.

Under his direction, the lab performed cultures, tested for antibiotic resistance and shared results with the state’s Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory. Dr. Doing and his staff have worked closely with the region’s medical providers in perfecting testing procedures to assure the highest quality results.

Maine Medical Center Research Institute’s Vector-borne Disease Laboratory was recognized for its dedication to the control of emerging tick-borne disease by understanding the environmental interactions of ticks, hosts and habitats. The team increases public awareness of the threat of Lyme disease through continued monitoring of the risk statewide.

Since 1988, MMCRI’s team has maintained a tick identification service, the data from which shows the expansion of the deer tick throughout Maine. Maine CDC has long collaborated with MMCRI’s team for routine mosquito collection to monitor for Eastern Equine Encephalitis and West Nile Virus.

Gus LeBlanc, Principal of Lewiston High School and his staff earned the award for their leadership and collaboration with Maine CDC in conducting an investigation of tuberculosis during 2011. Just as the school year ended, it was determined that a student at Lewiston High School had TB and it was important to track down anyone exposed to this individual so that any secondary cases could be stopped.

Donald Piper, Chief Medical Technologist, Microbiology of NorDx Laboratories was chosen for his leadership in implementing Electronic Laboratory Reporting (ELR) through HealthInfoNet. Since 2006, Maine CDC has worked collaboratively with the State Health Information Exchange and HealthInfoNet to develop and implement ELR, which helps expedite the reporting of infectious diseases.

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. Snow 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 with sewage.

“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.”