CDC remains at the front line of the current U.S. fungal meningitis outbreak, which has since early October sickened 490 people and caused 34 deaths in 19 states. On Nov. 15, the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions held a hearing about this outbreak. This post is an excerpt from the testimony of Dr. Beth Bell, director of the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases at CDC, who discussed, among other things, the critical role state health departments played in detecting and sounding the alarm on this outbreak of fungal meningitis and other infections.
CDC works around-the-clock to save lives and protect people like you from health threats
November 21st, 2012 9:38 am ET - Dr. Beth Bell, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, CDC
November 9th, 2012 2:34 pm ET - Dr. Scott M. Shone, Newborn Screening Lab, New Jersey Dept. of Health
First, About Newborn Screening:
Life-saving public health initiatives like newborn screening (NBS) can’t be put on hold, even during and after a devastating storm like Hurricane Sandy. In this guest blog post, Dr. Scott M. Shone, a research scientist and manager of the NBS lab (pictured above) at the New Jersey Department of Health, talks about his staff’s remarkable dedication and hard work to keep NBS testing going during the storm.
Dr. Shone’s lab is one of more than 70 NBS labs in the country that screens newborns within 48 hours of birth – a short but critical period when babies, even those who look healthy, are tested for hearing loss and certain genetic, endocrine, and metabolic conditions. The timing of these blood tests is critical because early detection, diagnosis, and treatment can prevent death or more serious health problems later in life. Sometimes newborns need immediate medications or a special diet to save their lives or protect them from a lifetime of disability.
October 17th, 2012 4:30 am ET - Blog Admin
The CDC lab has identified Exserohilum (pictured above) as the primary fungus responsible for the current meningitis outbreak. Photo courtesy of the CDC Public Health Image Library.
1. What’s going on?
- As of November 19, 478 cases, including 34 deaths, of fungal meningitis have been reported in 19 states (see case count map). Twelve cases of joint infections have also been reported.
- The meningitis and infections have been linked to three lots (i.e. batches) of an injectable steroid medication produced by New England Compounding Company (NECC) (see health care facilities map).
- The implicated lots of medication have been recalled; however, approx. 14,000 people may have been exposed to the contaminated injectable steroid medication.
- The medication in question differs from the epidural given to pregnant women during childbirth.
- For more information, visit CDC’s Current Situation webpage.
Categories: Disease Detectives
September 6th, 2012 11:39 am ET - Curt Shannon
We welcome guest blogger Dr. Douglas H. Hamilton, director of the Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) – AKA the Disease Detectives – at CDC. Photo courtesy of the CDC Public Health Image Library.
There are times when many outbreaks hit all at once. CDC disease detectives are working in communities and responding to outbreaks of hantavirus in California; a bad West Nile Virus season; Salmonella food contamination in cantaloupes and now mangoes; Legionnaires’ disease in Chicago; H3N2 virus in pigs; and plague in Colorado. This is a summer blockbuster of outbreaks – from some diseases that are seasonal and some that are pretty rare.
Categories: Global Health Threats
May 24th, 2012 4:28 pm ET - Curt Shannon
This 1963 poster featured CDC’s national symbol of public health – Wellbee – and included the date, time, and location of where one could receive a vaccination for polio and other diseases. Photo courtesy of the CDC Public Health Image Library.
Dr. Cara Burns is team lead of CDC’s Polio Molecular Epidemiology Laboratory within the Polio and Picornavirus Laboratory Branch, Division of Viral Diseases, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease. We asked her about her work:
1. What do you do at CDC?
As a research microbiologist, I lead a team of scientists who support the worldwide polio eradication program by sequencing viral genes and tracking polioviruses as they spread. We can determine if polioviruses have been imported from one country to another. We can also figure out where children are being missed by the immunization teams, by combining the sequencing information with information about where and when people are paralyzed by polio. This combined approach is called molecular epidemiology, which is an important part of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. CDC works with other major partners such as the World Health Organization, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, UNICEF and Rotary International.
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