Public Health shares more foodborne illness outbreak information in 2016

Public Health is excited to reveal a new process for sharing foodborne illness outbreak information with you.

We are taking new steps to make sharing information around foodborne illness outbreaks easier and more timely. In a previous blog post, we explained in more detail why we are making this shift – read more about it here. In a nutshell, our new process reflects a trend towards more open government and acknowledges your interest in what’s going on in the Department (that’s why this blog is called Public Health Insider – get it?). Our goal is to maximize transparency while maintaining the scientific integrity of our foodborne illness investigations.

foodborne illness blog pic edited.jpg

What you can expect
If a foodborne illness outbreak presents a risk to the public or if we need you to take action (e.g. get tested, get treated or take other steps to avoid illness), we will let you know just like we always do – through a formal press release to media. In addition, we’ll post something on this blog, and share that blog post and any updates through our social media platforms. And, we will also add key facts to a brand new outbreak website we’ve developed for this purpose. Check out that website here, and make sure to sign up for alerts if you want email updates.

However, often the outbreak does not present an ongoing threat to the public and there is no specific recommended action for the public to take. Beginning this month, we will also routinely post information on these outbreaks on the website. And, if we think the outbreak is in some way noteworthy or of particular interest, we’ll also update you right here on this blog. Details posted on the web can change as investigations progress, and we will take steps to provide readers with information to help avoid drawing inaccurate or premature conclusions.

Bottom line: Your health and safety remains our priority, and if you could be affected by an ongoing foodborne illness outbreak, we will exhaust all of our communications networks to let you know

Our advice for following outbreaks

The best thing you can do is subscribe to our blog (just click the “follow” button on the bottom right-hand corner of your browser window) and/or follow us on Facebook and Twitter. If you are a real foodborne outbreak enthusiast and want to know about every outbreak we investigate, you can also monitor our outbreak page and even sign up for alerts.

What we’re doing next
We’re going to see how this system works. As with anything new, we expect it might take some course-correcting, and we will do our best to improve our process iteratively. If you have suggestions, we’re happy to hear them – feel free to email public.health@kingcounty.gov with your feedback. Thanks in advance for your patience as we lead into this uncharted territory!