Five ways pvm helps cdc better use its data to mitigate salmonella, E. Coli, and other foodborne and zoonotic outbreaks



Public Health, Federal Government

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s core outbreak response platform, Data Collation and Integration for Public Health Event Responses (DCIPHER) platform, used for the collection, analysis, and dissemination of surveillance and outbreak response data, has grown considerably in stature and use at the federal and state levels. PVM has partnered with many CDC branches across multiple divisions for 5+ years to enhance this platform. Below, we’ve highlighted one program of note as an example of how PVM unlocks the power of data for CDC to improve its response to enteric disease outbreaks, like those associated with Salmonella and E. coli.

CDC’s Need to Modernize Enteric Surveillance and Response Data Systems

Each year, foodborne, waterborne, and animal contact-related diseases, like those caused by Salmonella and E. coli, result in millions of illnesses across the United States. Investigating foodborne and zoonotic outbreaks caused by these pathogens is often complex and involves data sharing across local and federal levels. To effectively respond to these outbreaks, CDC needed to improve its systems for collecting, analyzing, and visualizing data to better protect public health. PVM partnered with CDC to develop multiple tools to enhance its core enteric disease surveillance platform built within the DCIPHER system: the System for Enteric Disease Response, Investigation, and Coordination (SEDRIC).

Challenges with Using Data to Respond to Foodborne & Animal Contact Outbreaks

Prior to partnering with PVM, CDC encountered several obstacles in their outbreak response and analysis processes related to enteric diseases. For example, CDC had to manage large volumes of case data manually, which could result in delays in confirming case and death counts, and limitations in identifying trends within the data.

Enhancing the CDC SEDRIC Platform

PVM partnered with CDC to implement multiple tools within the SEDRIC system to address these challenges and optimize CDC’s outbreak response capabilities. Additionally, PVM has partnered with CDC to integrate historical data stored in manual systems and establish new data connections to ingest data from external sources into the SEDRIC system. Each of these improvements aimed to streamline workflows, enhance data accuracy, and enable CDC to make faster and more informed recommendations. Specific projects and tools within SEDRIC include:


Transitioning SEDRIC to a New Platform

PVM assisted CDC teams during the transition of SEDRIC from one platform to another, ensuring the functionality of custom tools and the compatibility of system upgrades. PVM’s partnership aided in a successful migration, allowed CDC to maintain continuity on this critical system, and prevented workflow setbacks. This transition to the newer, more robust platform yielded a plethora of new and improved functionalities to CDC’s existing tools, enabled the development of advanced applications, automated workflows, and empowered users to leverage existing tools in a more intuitive user interface. This effort was essential for DCIPHER’s growth and sustainability, so PVM was ready and eager to ensure this work was done efficiently and to the highest quality to aid CDC in a seamless transition to a new and improved platform.

Modernizing Investigation Pages and Workflows

The CDC Outbreak Response and Prevention Branch’s (ORPB) Outbreak Management System was a manual system, which took time from responding to outbreaks to enter data into. PVM replaced this system with the SEDRIC Investigation solution using DCIPHER's robust Business Intelligence tools. As a result, the core tool used for managing outbreak responses caused by enteric pathogens is now housed completely in SEDRIC, allowing CDC to manage outbreak data in a centralized and streamlined platform.

Expanding Reach with New Data Ingestion Streams

PVM enhanced the SEDRIC system by instantiating new system-to-system data connections to augment ongoing workflows and data streams. This work included the ingestion of the Food Industry Council’s Food Recall Reporter data which includes data on all known recalls initiated by FDA and USDA. This is the first comprehensive repository for recall information available to the public, and PVM ensured CDC’s ORPB epidemiological team had automated access to this data to supplement potential and active outbreak investigations. PVM also created data connections to Cornell’s Salmonella Serovar Wiki which contains valuable information on more than 80 of the most common and disease-causing serovars of Salmonella. These data streams are useful for historical trend analysis, understanding patterns and common reservoirs for the most prevalent strains of Salmonella, and support communication efforts between the CDC and the public regarding recalls.

Visualization Tools

PVM develops data visualization tools within the DCIPHER platform to help CDC discover trends in surveillance data, predict outbreaks, and react quicker to events when they do occur. For example, recurring strains of E. coli causing seasonal illnesses are much more easily identifiable when geographic, temporal, and epidemiological visualizations are available in one place for scientists to interpret. Additionally, these visualizations and public-facing digestible charts and figures allow CDC to work with industry partners to prevent additional illnesses and future outbreaks. A healthier nation is a team effort, and PVM is committed to making these connections and relationships happen. On top of this, PVM has developed monthly and annual reports that are shared across all levels of government, state partners, and the public using visualization tools—just another way PVM helps the dissemination of vital public health information.

Data Entry Forms and Questionnaires

Over the course of an outbreak investigation, CDC needs to collect specific information to determine the cause of an outbreak. An investigator would have to build questionnaires and similar forms, share them with partners, collect the completed forms, and manually enter all that data in respective surveillance and response platforms. To combat this, PVM built new data entry forms and questionnaires directly within SEDRIC, accompanied with new data pipelines to automatically enter and move that data to exactly where it needed to be, speeding up a formerly manual process so that investigators can identify outbreak sources quicker and make accurate recommendations to protect public health more efficiently. Now, investigators can focus on what they do best—investigating—as opposed to manual data entry and form building.

Unlocking the Power of Data to Improve Outbreak Response

PVM’s work implementing these tools in the SEDRIC platform has significantly improved CDC's outbreak response and analysis capabilities for foodborne, waterborne, and animal contact outbreaks. PVM’s introduction of specialized tools has streamlined processes, enhanced data accuracy, and enabled faster decision-making, ultimately leading to more effective public health recommendations. As a result, CDC can more swiftly and confidently respond to outbreaks, protecting public health and ensuring the safety of communities.

Need help with public health data modernization or customizing your data platform? Contact PVM today to learn how we can help you unlock the power of your data for good.