Public health alert template

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Public Health Alerts – Guidance for PHAC-OMD


Public Health Alerts is an application on CNPHI that allows for the timely notification and/or dissemination of information between local/regional, provincial/territorial and national public health stakeholders. Users can select the target audience (single P/T, multiple P/Ts, national) to whom an email notification will be sent to advise that a new PHA has been posted. PHAs are used for case finding and to provide situational awareness on current national, provincial/territorial and local investigations.


The Enteric Public Health Alerts System (EPHAS) was developed by a local, provincial and federal working group and was launched in August 2001 on CEOSC (Canadian Enteric Outbreak Surveillance Centre) and then moved to CIOSC (Canadian Integrated Outbreak Surveillance Centre), housed on CNPHI (Canadian Network for Public Health Intelligence), in 2003. Many people still refer to PHAs as “CEOSC postings” or “CEOSC alerts”.  

General content

  • Audience
    • Automatically populated based on author affiliation. OMD is able to post nationally only.
  • Author and contact information
    • Sections auto-populate.
  • Posting information
    • Completion of drop-down fields.
    • Some fields may be entered as “unknown” as PHAs are often posted in advance of all information being available.
    • There are two types of PHAs posted by OMD:
      • An outbreak investigation coordinating committee (OICC) specific alert, which is posted by the Response Team and used for both case finding and information sharing. Example 1 in this document provides a template for an outbreak-specific post.
      • An information sharing alert, which is usually posted by the Assessment and Detection team, and is used to provide general information to public health professionals in Canada on a specific topic . Example 2 in this document provides a template for an information sharing alert.
    • Priority levels (assigned when posted)
    • Non-critical (Green) ⇒ minimal to non-existent threat to public health. Should be read within 7 days.
    • Important (Yellow) ⇒ possible threat to public health. May require immediate attention or action depending on relevancy. Should be read within 72 hours.
    • Urgent (Orange) ⇒ significant threat to public health. Warrants immediate attention, may require action. Should be read within 24 hours.
    • Emergency (Red) ⇒ Extraordinary threat to public health. Warrants immediate action or attention. Should be read within 60 minutes.
    • The priority level of most PHAs posted by OMD is yellow; however, assessment of priority level is situation dependent.
    • Distribution Group and Notification Methods (selected when posted)
      • PHAC: Standard
      • FPT Reviewers: Standard
      • All Remaining F/P/T Public Health Users: Standard
    • Sensitivity Settings
      • Select “Sensitive Information”

 Other points

  • Public Health Alerts can NOT be updated once posted. If updates are warranted, a new posting must be created. However, previously posted alerts can be linked under “Associated Alerts”.
  • Documents can be attached (e.g., spreadsheets, maps, questionnaires, other relevant information).
  • Links to websites can be included (e.g., Public Health Notices, US investigation summaries).
  • Depending on your access level you will post directly (Reviewer) or submit to a Reviewer for approval and posting (Writer). A Reviewer is a senior staff member in OMD.