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Employees Work to Combat Potentially Deadly Disease

Employees of the Week: Harold Senke and Kaitlin Greenberg, Environmental Health

May 31, 2013

Albuquerque- The most common cause of severe food-borne illness is a virus called norovirus, affecting millions of Americans each year. A particularly potent strain of norovirus was on the rise this winter and spring season, with several significant outbreaks occurring in New Mexico. Two employees from the Environmental Health Department, Harold (Hal) Senke and Kaitlin Greenberg recognized the importance and extent of these outbreaks; made it their mission to go beyond the routine ways of delivering information to the community. Knowing that education was one of the best forms of prevention, the duo contacted local organizations where the illness could potentially thrive, like assisted living facilities, hospitals and senior centers, and started planning a symposium.

Working with the New Mexico Department of Health, they created a novel outreach effort; bringing together many different entities with similar needs, creating agendas, providing information to identify patient/worker symptoms and to address an outbreak, and informing the agencies of the standard methods to prevent the illness from spreading.

While Hal and Kaitlin work every day to protect the public health against concerns such as food-borne illness and other infectious disease, they also focus on quality of life issues such as mold and bed bugs. The time, effort and vision that made the norovirus symposium an effective and creative outreach effort was above and beyond the call of duty.

The Norovirus Symposium was a huge success that provided local organizations with the scientific information necessary to fight the virus and minimize the potential for large-scale outbreaks.