Patrol Cars as Vehicles for Public Health: Partnering with Police in a Wound Botulism Outbreak Response (TED-style talk)

  • We detected an outbreak of wound botulism among people who used drugs in one neighborhood in Los Angeles. Wound botulism is a rare disease that can be caused by contaminated heroin. In order to reach people who may have been at risk, we partnered with a local police department to conduct street outreach.
  • Working with local police was critical to help us control the outbreak. Together, we were able to reach people who used street drugs, provide counseling on how to avoid wound botulism, and connect people to drug rehabilitation and homelessness services. We also worked with other non-profits and encouraged the local community to help tell others about the outbreak.
  • More than a hundred individuals were directly counseled through the street outreach. After the public health response, there were no further cases of wound botulism connected with the outbreak.
Quote from the Disease Detective

“Law enforcement officers are not typically thought of as partners for public health. As an anthropologist and physician, however, I view disease as being caused by both germs and societal factors. Working with local partners is therefore critical to finding new ways to save lives and prevent suffering. Public health is very much a team sport.”

– Howard Chiou, MD, PhD, EIS Class of 2018

EIS officer Howard Chiou[JPG - 12 MB]

EIS officer Howard Chiou, MD, PhD, prepares for an exercise beside a Los Angeles County field vehicle

Contact Information

CDC Media Relations
(404) 639-3286

Conference Information
Howard Chiou


Howard Chiou, MD, PhD, MS,
EIS Class of 2018 
Los Angeles County Public Health Department

Education: MD: Emory University, 2017
PhD(Anthro): Emory University, 2015
MS: Stanford University, 2006
BA: Stanford University, 2006
Intern: Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, San Jose, California, 2017-Present

Work Experience: Visiting Instructor- Stanford University Clinical Excellence Research Center, Stanford, California, 2015-2016
Teaching Apprentice, Emory University Department of Anthropology, Atlanta, Georgia, 2013-2013
Teaching Associate, Emory University Department of Anthropology, Atlanta, Georgia, 2011-2011

Volunteer Experience: Founder- Leadership Core, Emory Volunteer Medical Interpretation Services, Atlanta, Georgia, 2011-2017