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Thoughts from CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH


Ebola Requires the World’s United Action

Categories: Health Protection

CDC Director FriedenThe nations of the world, along with key international organizations, gather at the White House today to advance a Global Health Security Agenda that will help keep the world safe from infectious disease threats.

This meeting is a critical opportunity to increase international commitment and, more importantly, action to stop the Ebola epidemic in West Africa and the infectious disease threats to come.

Ebola is a critical issue for the world community. There’s a real risk to the stability and security of societies, as governments are increasingly challenged to not only control Ebola but to provide basic health services and other government functions. The stability of these countries and their economies, as well as those of their neighbors and of others, is at increasing risk.

Executive Order Issued On One of the Most Urgent Health Concerns Facing Us Today

Categories: Health Protection

Plates of plates of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in CDC’s healthcare-associated infections laboratory.

Plates of plates of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in CDC’s healthcare-associated infections laboratory.

National Strategy to Combat Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

The announcement this morning of the President’s Executive Order and the National Strategy to Combat Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria marks the administration’s response to one of the most urgent health threats facing us today – antibiotic resistance.

This year alone, at least two million Americans will become sickened by antibiotic-resistant infections and approximately 23,000 Americans will die.

It’s painfully easy for me to imagine life in a post-antibiotic era. I trained as an internist and infectious disease physician before there was effective treatment for HIV, and later cared for patients with tuberculosis that was resistant to virtually all antibiotics.  We improvised with what little we had in the way of effective medications and hoped for the best, but all too often patients died from these conditions.

Detecting, preventing, and controlling antibiotic resistance requires a strategic, coordinated, and sustained effort. Fighting antibiotic resistance is both a public health and national security priority. Today’s Executive Order from the President and the accompanying National Strategy will address the major drivers of resistant infections, and CDC is poised to play a lead role in mobilizing our national response in four major ways.

CDC Update for Health Care Workers: Ebola Environmental Infection Control Procedures

Categories: Health Protection, Public Health & Clinical Care Collaboration

Dr. Tom Frieden PhotoThe Ebola outbreak in West Africa is an international public health emergency. As the world responds, there is a risk that American responders working on the ground may be exposed to the virus or become ill. This summer, two American health care workers infected with Ebola while working in West Africa were successfully treated at Emory University Hospital.  Their health care team used the proper infection control practices and there was no transmission of the virus to the health care team or others in the hospital and community.

Now two more American health care workers working in West Africa have become infected with Ebola virus and are being treated in the United States.

CDC has already consulted with state and local health departments on almost 100 cases where travelers had recently returned from West Africa and showed symptoms that might have been caused by Ebola. Of those cases, only eleven of were considered to be truly at risk. Specimens from all eleven patients were tested and fortunately Ebola was ruled out in all cases.

Hope in the Time of Ebola

Categories: Health Protection, Public Health & Clinical Care Collaboration

I recently travelled to West Africa to get a better understanding of how the outbreak is unfolding and to see firsthand the challenges on the ground. The current Ebola outbreak is an unprecedented crisis that will require an unprecedented international response. It is spreading with remarkable speed, and is exacting an enormous cost both in lives and in dollars.

It has been an outbreak of terrible human suffering. Sadly, there will be a great deal more suffering before this outbreak is over. But every day there are more reasons to be hopeful.
You can see four of those reasons in this photograph. They are Jaminatu Pessima, guardian of 21-month-old Isata Conteh; Isata herself; Kadi Jaward; and Sulaiman K. Saidu. Each of them had Ebola. Each of them survived.

Photo: Frieden in Africa

CDC director on Ebola crisis: Why I am going to Africa

Categories: Health Protection, Public Health & Clinical Care Collaboration

CDC disease detective Kelsey Mirkovic, just back from West Africa, tells of working to gain the confidence of village leaders and train community health workers to spread the word about how to avoid getting – and stop spreading – Ebola.  “The community health workers are key in the effort to stop Ebola because they are working with people in their villages every day. But if they meet with resistance, it’s the village chief who can make the difference. “

An encounter in one village, resolved with the help of the chief, taught Kelsey valuable lessons in how to reach people and communicate more effectively.  A grateful chief presented Kelsey with a symbolic gift of cocoa pods and a coffee plant.  For her, the gift symbolized the important connection made and confidence gained with a trusted community leader.

Kelsey and her colleagues are fulfilling our promise to the people of West Africa, Americans, and the world that CDC is quickly ramping up its efforts to help bring the worst Ebola outbreak in history under control.

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