Each September, Umatilla County, Ore., hosts the Pendleton Round-Up, a massive rodeo that draws 50,000 people, nearly doubling the county’s population. Cowboys and cowgirls from across the country bring their broncos to compete, while guests line up to watch them battle bulls and rope steers, among other things, over the three-day affair.
But bringing so many people together has a downside: Each year, there are always outbreaks of communicable diseases such as rotavirus and influenza. Umatilla County’s public health professionals have the unenviable task of containing these outbreaks. Fortunately, they don’t go it alone. The county has several cross-jurisdictional sharing arrangements with other counties throughout the region. An especially important one is with neighboring Morrow County. That agreement allows public health officials in one county fast access to patient case files from the other. When infections can spread quickly, time is of the essence, so the arrangement is a real asset.