State Hygienic Laboratory heading image.
Office of the Director

Dear friends,

Each year, this Annual Report highlights a theme reflecting an important aspect of the State Hygienic Laboratory’s work. This year, we have chosen to focus on “Partnership,” a deceptively complex concept with vital importance to the Hygienic Laboratory’s ability to meet its responsibilities.

On the surface, partnership seems pretty straightforward. After all, the State Hygienic Laboratory is a public agency, established by Iowa’s legislature in 1904 to support the state’s need for science-based information regarding community-based health and environmental concerns. As a result, we routinely work with state and local agencies to provide answers to the questions they have about the nature of a disease or the quality of the environment. It is also a concept inherent in our professions of public and environmental health with a focus on population and community health. However, partnership requires more than simply working together. Webster tells us that partnership includes “close cooperation…with both specified and joint rights and responsibilities.” If the old maxim that “we are all in it together” is true, then partnership is how we most effectively achieve our common purpose.

The importance of this common purpose, and the need for partnership, became frighteningly apparent this last year when several cases of Ebola were identified in the United States. The spike in public fear resulting from the sudden appearance of this frequently fatal disease refocused attention on the need for national preparedness and emergency response. Issues of disease surveillance and investigation, health communications, legal requirements for screening, and the revamping of workforce training to ensure the accomplishment of best practices in addressing a communicable disease all emerged in the wake of this outbreak. Each of these elements requires that we develop continuing partnerships between all of those who can achieve an effective response.

Within this report is the detailing of the expertise the Hygienic Laboratory has developed on behalf of Iowa’s system of preparedness and response. However, the value of this expertise will be increased through partnerships with others who share a common vision for the state. It is with this goal in mind that we offer this annual report as an inventory of the State Hygienic Laboratory, and look forward to an expansion of partnerships with other Iowans who share our vision that Iowa is indeed the healthiest state in the nation.