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Selected Category: Emergency Preparedness & Response

Keeping Tabs on Deadly Diseases

Categories: Disease Detectives, Emergency Preparedness & Response, Innovative Labs

(Above photo: Created by CDC microbiologist Cynthia Goldsmith, this colorized transmission electron micrograph (TEM) revealed some of the ultrastructural morphology displayed by an Ebola virus virion.)

This post originally appeared in CDC’s blog Public Health Matters.

CDC is responsible for protecting the public from a host of health threats, including some pretty scary pathogens, like Ebola virus or anthrax for example. One way we do this is through our Select Agents Program which is responsible for governing and regulating the use of certain pathogens by research facilities and labs around the world. In the beginning of December I had the remarkable opportunity to accompany the inspection team who helps regulate the Select Agents Program on one of their routine lab inspections. I was invited to an inspection of a laboratory in the Southeast region of the U.S. that handles rare and dangerous pathogens to get a glimpse of how the Inspection team operates, what they look for, and what they do to protect us.

Evacuating During an Emergency: Zoe’s Wildfire Story

Categories: Emergency Preparedness & Response

Wildfire image

A wildfire sweeps across Zoe’s town

September 2013 marks the 10th annual National Preparedness Month sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. CDC strives to save lives and protect people, and one way we do this is by helping the public prepare for emergencies, including natural disasters like wildfires in Zoe’s case.

In a typical day, many families are apart throughout cities and towns because of work or school. You never know if you will be with your family when an emergency occurs. That’s why it’s important to have an evacuation plan that involves all family members and any child caretakers to help bring your family together.

More than 500 homes were destroyed when a wildfire swept across Lorraine’s town, forcing hundreds of families to evacuate. “Evacuations began when both parents were at work, leaving our child with her nurse assistant stranded at home while we rushed home fighting traffic,” says Lorraine. Her daughter, Zoe, needs a caretaker at all times because of spinal muscular atrophy, which requires her to be completely dependent on someone for her daily living activities. Zoe also requires special equipment such as a power wheelchair, hospital bed for sleeping, oxygen pump, and a patient lift to help move from one place to another.  Without much time to prepare for the evacuation, Lorraine and her husband had to quickly pack all of Zoe’s medical supplies and evacuate to a hotel for a couple of days.

On the Go in an Emergency: Stephanie’s Hurricane Sandy Story

Categories: Emergency Preparedness & Response, State & Local Success

Image of Stephanine

Stephanie

CDC works around-the-clock to save lives and protect people; however, there are steps you can take to prepare for emergencies, especially those caused by natural disasters such as hurricanes. Now that the 2013 hurricane season is upon us, we wanted to share with you Stephanie’s Hurricane Sandy story.  

When disaster strikes, you might be at home or at a number of other places. This can make it difficult for your family to follow an emergency plan. Packing emergency supplies and information in an emergency kit can make it easier to prepare and respond during a disaster, especially if you have a child with special health care needs.

Lauren was with her daughter, Stephanie, in the intensive care unit at a local hospital when Hurricane Sandy hit. Stephanie has autism and recently underwent a kidney transplant, which requires her to have refrigerated medicine and to be in a climate-controlled environment at all times. When they returned home, there was no electricity or heat, and the family soon realized that they would need a generator to help care for Stephanie’s medical needs. “We first thought of a generator before her kidney transplant, but it took being without electricity to realize we really needed it,” says Lauren. These are familiar challenges faced by many families during storms and other emergencies.

CDC Scientists Produce Speedy Results Analyzing H7N9 Virus

Categories: Emergency Preparedness & Response, Global Health Threats, Innovative Labs, Public Health Partners

Dr. Michael Shaw, Influenza Division, CDC

People continue to be infected with H7N9 bird flu in China. Fortunately, there is no evidence that this virus is spreading from person-to-person the way seasonal flu does. However, flu viruses are constantly changing and this virus could gain the ability to spread easily among people. At CDC, we are working around-the-clock in China and at home to respond to the global threat posed by H7N9.  We are monitoring the situation closely, coordinating response efforts with international and domestic partners, and keeping the public and health providers informed (check out the H7N9 webpage and our recent blog post, H7N9 Influenza: 6 Things You Should Know Now).

We are also taking routine preparedness measures, including developing a candidate vaccine virus that could be used to make a H7N9 vaccine if one is needed. Other important work to learn more about the virus is ongoing in the CDC laboratories. In this short video, Dr. Michael Shaw, associate director for Laboratory Science in the Influenza Division, talks about how CDC’s scientists are studying the genetic sequences of the H7N9 virus. These dedicated scientists are producing results at an amazing speed – leading to a better understanding of the virus, including what drugs can be used to treat it and how the virus might be changing. The bottom line to all this work is improving CDC’s ability to protect people against this emerging public health threat.

H7N9 Influenza: 6 Things You Should Know Now

Categories: Disease Detectives, Emergency Preparedness & Response, Global Health Threats, Public Health Partners

Image of the H7N9 virus courtesy of Cynthia S. Goldsmith and Thomas Rowe

Not long after a newsworthy 2012-2013 influenza season, flu is in the headlines again. On April 1, the World Health Organization (WHO) first reported 3 human infections with a new influenza A (H7N9) virus in China. Since then, additional cases have been reported. Most of the people reportedly infected have had severe respiratory illness and, in some cases, have died.

Fortunately, there are currently no reported cases of H7N9 in the U.S. or anywhere outside of China.  At CDC, we are following this situation closely, coordinating with domestic and international partners, taking routine preparedness steps, and sharing frequent updates.

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