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Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County - Public Health Preparedness Manager

  •  727-824-6900 x4625



    Mailing Address

    205. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N. 

    St. Petersburg, FL 33701 


Public Health Preparedness Surveillance 

Surveillance at the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County is organized and managed by the Epidemiology and Public Health Preparedness (PHP) programs. The goal of these activities is to make sure people in Pinellas County are aware of issues that may affect the health of residents and visitors in Pinellas County. The sooner a threat to the population's health is detected, the better the chances negative effects could be avoided. Being prepared for all hazards increases our abilities to take action against a wide range of emergencies.

The key surveillance activities gives an overview that your health department does in its effort to be fully prepared to assist the residents and visitors of Pinellas County.

Syndromic Surveillance 

  • syn·drome  n.
    1. A group of symptoms that collectively indicate or characterize a disease, psychological disorder, or other abnormal condition.
    2. A complex of symptoms indicating the existence of an undesirable condition or quality or a distinctive or characteristic pattern of behavior.
  • The Epidemiology & PHP programs use syndromic surveillance to look for a slow-building bioterrorist attack or a trend in the health of the community.

FirstWatch™ Surveillance 

  • The PHP program monitors software that utilizes real-time information from 911 calls compared to defined patterns to determine if an unusual situation is occurring in the community.
  • Some of the codes that are monitored are: Abdominal Pain/Problems, Breathing Problems, Sick Person (Specific Diagnosis), Unconscious/Fainting, Unknown Problem/Man Down, Carbon Monoxide/Inhalation/HazMat, and Standby HazMat Incident.

Food & Waterborne Illness Surveillance 

  • All incoming food/waterborne illness complaints are investigated to determine if a food/water source is a possible danger to the health of the community or if a bioterrorist event using a gastrointestinal illness has occurred.
  • Food safety inspections are completed in conjunction with the following community partners:
  • To report an illness due to food or water consumption, please call the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County at (727) 507-4346.

Hazardous Materials Incident Surveillance  

  • PHP personnel are alerted whenever the Hazardous Materials (HazMat) Team is called out to investigate a possible bioterrorism incident. This allows for the tracking of  HazMat Team members in the event prophylaxis is warranted.
  • PHP may also be alerted in this manner if a health question is needed to be answered in the field
  • To view active Emergency Response calls:


  • PHP has worked on planning and preparedness for the BioWatch Program The function of the BioWatch Program is to detect the release of pathogens into the air, which will then provide warning to government, first responders and the public health community of a potential bioterrorism event.
  • Much about this program is protected under Department of Homeland Security rules.

Biological Detection System (BDS) 

  • PHP has worked on planning and preparedness for the Biological Detection System (BDS) Program for the United States Postal Service. The BDS includes a hood, designed to suck in air particles, which will be installed on the current mail-processing equipment. Testing will be done hourly wherein air particles from the mail are placed in sterile water to make a liquid sample. The sample is then inserted into a cartridge for a DNA analysis. If the test is positive for anthrax, an alarm will sound, and employees will be evacuated.
  • The Health Department stores medication for the USPS employees in case of a positive Anthrax alarm.