Respiratory Diseases Branch
Led by Dr. Michael Osterholm, MCEIRS first initiated a training program in 2008. “We considered it a key part of our mission to improve global capacity in animal and human virologic, epidemiologic and disease surveillance,” says Dr. Osterholm. The program originally was developed as an in-person training for approximately 16 attendees. After completing a comprehensive needs assessment of more than 100 global experts, the team realized there was a far greater need—one that could be met by providing the training online.
Key gaps were identified through surveys and interviews with experts in a variety of disciplines around the world. “We wanted the training to improve capacity in all areas of surveillance,” explains Dr. Osterholm. “This includes public health, medical, veterinary, wildlife and other professionals who are or may be involved with planning, executing, and evaluating animal and human influenza surveillance. The modules are also intended to enhance the knowledge and skills of people in the private sector who are responsible for biosafety, biosecurity, or infection control in poultry or swine processing operations.”
Members of the MCEIRS team, consisting of human and animal health experts, then developed the modules and provided them online free of charge for multiple target audiences. The team also reached out to professional organizations whose members might benefit from the training, and established completion certificates that users can earn for continuing education credit.
The first modules developed focused on avian influenza viruses with pandemic potential and how they present and spread in wildlife and humans. The content ranged from basic information on avian viruses to biosecurity measures needed to prevent their transmission. “The more modules we developed and the more feedback we received, the better we were able to focus the training on what was really needed and fine-tune the process for developing them,” Dr. Osterholm says.
That experience was crucial when the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus emerged. As information about the strain was determined, the MCEIRS team developed modules on 2009 H1N1’s origin, epidemiology, surveillance, and presentation in animals. “Influenza is always changing so we knew we had to be flexible when we first started the training program,” says Dr. Osterholm. “We have a process in place that can quickly adapt to current conditions and ensures the material is current.”
As of July 2011, the MCEIRS online training modules have served nearly 2,000 online learners from every continent and from multiple disciplines—including clinical and veterinary medicine, natural resources, public health, and the poultry and swine industries.
The team recently posted their thirteenth module, Surveillance for Avian Influenza in Birds, and have one more upcoming module: “Interspecies Transmission of Avian Influenza.” They plan to keep these modules up-to-date and available as a resource for ongoing continuing education for professionals, decision-makers, and interested lay audiences.
For more information about the modules, please visit their MCEIRS training website.
Last Updated September 07, 2011
Last Reviewed August 18, 2011