Epidemiology Unit

Epidemiology is the study of health and disease in communities. As a key component, the Epidemiology Unit supports the mission of the Public Health Department:

The San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department improves and maintains community health by identifying health issues, preventing disease and injury, influencing policy development, and promoting health behaviors through leadership, collaborative partnerships, education, direct services, and surveillance

In San Luis Obispo County, the Epidemiology unit collects and analyzes county health data, prepares health status reports, and distributes these reports to a variety of audiences, including the public health department, other county departments, community residents and community agencies. The primary goal of these reports is to improve the health of the community. Understanding health problems in our community helps agencies assess and evaluate programs, and assign limited resources more effectively.

The key functions of the Epidemiology unit include:

    1. Provide epidemiology support and training among Department programs and offices and community partners, working to prevent communicable disease, and toward chronic disease prevention.
    2. Review, summarize and make available data on demographics, vital statistics, communicable disease, health-related quality of life, and other indicators of community health.
    3. Investigate outbreaks of disease and develop preventative strategies against further occurrences through review and corrective action plans.
    4. Support the Public Health Department Bioterrorism Preparedness program through the use of syndromic surveillance, training and exercises.
    5. Participate in the conduct of special studies and projects, especially those that integrate efforts among Department programs and offices and community partners.


About the Epidemiology unit:

The Epidemiology Unit is part of Health Policy, Evaluation and Planning group, and works to support other units within the Public Health Department (PHD) as well as provide services to the public.

In addition to tracking disease trends and investigating outbreaks, the Epidemiologist conducts targeted surveillance for unusual diseases or indicators of public health threats. The Epidemiology Unit also provides services in management of geographic information systems (GIS) and statistical analysis software.

Located at 2191 Johnson Ave in San Luis Obispo, this program collaborates with many offices and programs within the Health Agency. As part of Communicable Disease Control and Prevention, epidemiology garners its data from various sources: vital records, hospital discharge data, targeted surveillance, and mortality data, to name a few. Much of this data is summarized annually in publications such as the annual Health Status Report and annual HIV/AIDS report.

Epidemiology serves an important function and as a resource both to the public and Public Health Department in providing timely analysis of data and trends in the public’s health.

Epidemiology Data and Reports - For Data, Publications and Reports


To contact the Epidemiology unit at the San Luis Obispo Public Health Department

San Luis Obispo County
Public Health Department
Epidemiology Unit
2191 Johnson Ave.
P.O. Box 1489
San Luis Obispo, CA 93406-1489
(805) 781-5500

Penny Borenstein, MD, MPH

Health Officer/Public Health Director


M-F, 8:00 AM-5:00 PM

(805) 781-5500

Online Contact Form

After hours public health emergency or urgent communicable disease (805) 781-4553

24-Hour Information Line -Recorded Messages- (805) 788-2903

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