Team Epi-Aid is an award-winning volunteer group at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health that provides students with the opportunity to gain applied public health experience by assisting with outbreak investigations and other public health emergencies, while at the same time providing North Carolina's local and state health departments with needed surge capacity. More than 120 students are currently members of Team Epi-Aid and have contributed over 6,000 volunteer hours since 2003.
Team Epi-Aid Experience
UNC CPHP Conducts Survey of KI Distribution Around Local Nuclear Power Plant
In September 2010, Team Epi-Aid assisted with a household survey of potassium iodide (KI) distribution within the 10-mile emergency planning zone (EPZ) around the Shearon Harris nuclear power plant, located 22 miles southwest of Raleigh, NC. In May 2010, KI was made available free of charge to all residents of the 10-mile EPZ, which consists of residents of Wake, Chatham, Harnett, and Lee counties in North Carolina. KI has been shown to protect the thyroid gland in the event that an individual is exposed to radioactive iodine during a nuclear emergency.
Over a 3-day period, UNC CPHP staff, along with volunteers from local health departments and Team Epi-Aid, approached 475 households across 30 census blocks and completed 177 interviews with residents of the EPZ. Volunteers asked residents a series of questions assessing their receipt of KI, knowledge and beliefs about KI, and effectiveness of public health messaging about the May 2010 distribution. From extrapolations of the interview data, most EPZ households do not have KI nor are they knowledgeable about how KI may be used during a nuclear emergency.
These and other findings are being prepared to be presented to local Preparedness Coordinators, regional surveillance teams, the Shearon Harris Task Force, and at the 2011 NACCHO Preparedness Summit. These results will be used by Shearon Harris and local health departments to improve future KI distribution and education campaigns. This project was supported by the North Carolina Division of Public Health.
Team Epi-Aid Activities
Team Epi-Aid volunteers have participated in the following activities:
Outbreaks and disease investigations
- Influenza A H1N1 outbreak response (2009)
- Hepatitis C cluster investigation (2008)
- E. coli outbreak in Rowan County (2007)
- Influenza B outbreak in Yancey County (2006)
- Salmonella outbreaks in various counties (2004-2006)
- Analysis of Cryptosporidium surveillance data (2006)
- Foodborne disease surveillance evaluation and data analysis (2004)
- Surveillance of adverse events to smallpox vaccine (2003)
Public health emergencies
- Rapid needs assessments following hurricanes Isabel (2003), Charley (2004), Rita (2005), Wilma (2005) and Katrina (2006)
- Bioterrorism exercises and drills (2004)
Community health assessments, surveys and studies
- Community health assessments in multiple North Carolina counties (2006-2012)
- Assessment of KI pill coverage around nuclear power plant (2010)
- Rapid assessment of H1N1 vaccine (2009)
- Reproductive health needs assessment in Johnston/Wilson counties, North Carolina, and Cobb/Douglas counties, Georgia (2009)
- Survey of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine availability in south central North Carolina (2008)
- Hurricane evacuation assessment in Albemarle Regional Health District (2008)
- HIV risk behavior survey at NC PrideFest in Durham (2006-2008)
- Pre-hurricane assessment in Carteret County (2007)
- Lead contamination project in Durham County (2006)
- Recreational water exposure study (2005)
- Facilitation of community focus groups about pandemic influenza antiviral priority groups (2007) and diabetes prevention (2010)