“There’s something civil servants have that the private sector
doesn’t and that is the duty of loyalty to the greater good –
the duty of loyalty to the collective best interest of all rather
than the interest of a few.”
– David Walker, former U.S. Comptroller General
High Quality H2O
Who: Steve Sulprizio
What: Environmental Analyst
Where: Department of Conservation & Recreation
MOSES: Member since 2009.
As an analyst with DCR's Division of Water Supply Protection, Steve Sulprizio conducts water quality sampling of all the tributaries that feed the Wachusett Reservoir. The Wachusett, along with the Quabbin Reservoir, supplies 2.5 million people in and around Boston with drinking water. Steve also tracks stream discharge and snow melt to determine the amount of water that flows into the Wachusett Reservoir on a daily basis.
Who: Jenmina Ojuka
What: Environmental Analyst
Where: Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
MOSES: Member since 1998.
"When we inhale fine particles -- 2.5 micrometers or smaller -- they can penetrate deeply into our lungs and cause respiratory illnesses," Jenmina explains. He and the DEP air quality team maintain sensitive field equipment that is used to collect and measure air samples, ensuring the air we breathe is safe.
Who: Bridgett McAlice
What: Wildlife Biologist
Where: Division of Fisheries & Wildlife
MOSES: Member since 2004.
Whether tracking the Common Loon or responding to inquiries regarding hunting laws and regulations, Bridgett McAlice knows a thing or two about Massachusetts' wild life. Recently, as vehicles zoomed by, she secured her harness before stepping into the “bucket," provided in partnership with MassDOT, then dipped below the Quinapoxet Bridge to band four raven chicks for federal and state tracking purposes.
Earlier this year, the "happiest place on earth" became home to the measles, the highly infectious disease which can be transmitted through the air and can lead to pneumonia and encephalitis, among other serious consequences. To date, 117 cases of the disease in the U.S. have been linked to California's Disneyland, out of the 169 cases nationwide (as of May 1, 2015).
Though not related to the Disney outbreak, here in Massachusetts, a visiting, unvaccinated exchange student from Western Europe developed measles this past April and exposed hundreds in greater Boston, the North Shore and in neighboring states to the disease. Over 700 people were contacted by state and local public health professionals and were provided with recommendations for post-exposure follow-up. To date, there have not been any subsequent cases associated to the visiting exchange student.
MOSES member Stephen Fleming, an epidemiologist with the Department of Public Health, explains, "We are fortunate in the Commonwealth, given our high vaccination rates, but we are by no means exempt from the disease. Here at DPH, we are constantly on the lookout for measles and reaching out to hospital staff and local boards of health to ensure that suspect cases will be recognized early and reported."
In 2000, the US Centers for Disease Control declared measles eliminated in the United States, thanks in large part to an effective vaccine. But because of anti-vaccination concerns, fueled by false claims about links between vaccines and autism, many parents have opted out of vaccinating their kids, leaving them-and others, including children too young to be vaccinated-vulnerable.
Here in Massachusetts, there were eight confirmed cases in 2014, and one case in a visitor. From these nine cases, over 3,500 people were exposed and over 500 received post-exposure vaccination.
Massachusetts consistently has a very high percentage (95% or higher) of children age 19 months to 35 months who receive the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine. Although state law requires vaccination before children can attend school, parents may obtain an exemption by providing a medical reason or merely stating that vaccination is against their sincere religious belief. Over the past dozen-plus years, the number who obtained exemptions increased from less than 1 percent in the 2000-2001 school year to 1.5 percent in 2013-14. In certain parts of the state, as well, exemption rates are much higher: over 5 percent in Franklin, Nantucket and Duke's (Martha's Vineyard) Counties, for example, among kindergarten students.
But thanks to the efforts of Fleming, along with fellow epidemiologists Christina Brandeburg, Meagan Burns, Joyce Cohen, Nancy Harrington, Rosa Hernandez, Hillary Johnson, Omotola Kalejaiye and Marija Popstefanija, all MOSES members, the closely knit team works with local boards of health and hospital infection control practitioners to ensure suspect cases are recognized and proper procedures followed. The team also works very closely with other MOSES members within the Hinton State Laboratory, where much of the measles testing takes place. Fleming shares, "From circulating advisories from the CDC on what symptoms to look for to sharing on-call duties 24-7/365, we strive to recognize measles early and limit the spread, and so far, we are good with regards to the Disney outbreak and the visiting student."
Additional, but not all duties of the epidemiologists include advocacy for prevention of the disease, speaking at annual trainings and regional immunization update events.
MOSES members making a difference around the world. Each year, MOSES scientists and engineers donate their time to Engineers without Borders. Here is just a small sampling of the good and important work they do.
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