The college, in partnership with the Portage County Health Department and Emergency Management Agency, conducted a mock disease outbreak investigation on July 12 for 27 high school students enrolled in Upward Bound, the universityâ€™s summer pre-college program for first-generation, low-income students from targeted school districts.
The mock investigation included a dozen public health undergraduate and graduate students â€œcontractingâ€ salmonella from Peteâ€™s Pickle Stand, a fictitious campus restaurant.
The Upward Bound students acted as epidemiologists, interviewing the sickened and determining a common exposure. Some also posed as health inspectors, examining the food facility. Other students worked in a diagnostic lab unit to determine the infectious agent. Finally, several students served as health commissioners, coordinating the investigation from the Portage County emergency command vehicle and fielding questions from the media. WEWS News Channel 5 and The Record-Courier sent journalists to cover the event.
â€œThe goal was to engage students to understand thereâ€™s an emergency management system in place and to give them a taste of what public health is all about,â€ says emergency management consultant Annette Petranic, president of Pavlick Consulting Group, Inc., who helped to coordinate the event. â€œStudents learned in a few hours what would take weeks to cover in a lecture hall,â€ she adds.
Grants have been secured to continue the program for five years.