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Vaccination: Your best shot

Categories: child health, immunization, infectious disease, measles

 

World Immunization Week Banner 

In 2002, I was in Maracaibo, Venezuela assisting with the investigation of the last measles outbreak in South America when the news arrived: Ministers of health from the region agreed that a synchronized week of vaccination in the hemisphere would help prevent future outbreaks and increase access to immunization for many who would miss this opportunity. The idea of Vaccination Week in the Americas ignited 12 years ago and is now a global initiative: World Immunization Week! Since 2003, more than 465 million people in the Americas have been vaccinated under the framework that emerged from the original idea of Vaccination Week in the Americas (VWA), which takes place the last week in April every year.

Carla Lee, MA, Public Health Advisor, CDC Global Immunization Division

Carla Lee, MA, Public Health Advisor, CDC Global Immunization Division

VWA is truly a collaborative effort led by countries and territories of the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) to improve equity and access to vaccination for families. VWA activities strengthen the national immunization programs in the Americas by reaching out to families with little access to routine immunization programs. The focus is to find people living in urban peripheries, rural and border areas and in indigenous or other hard-to-reach communities and offer them vaccines.

The work has saved lives.

The Region of the Americas encompasses the entire Western Hemisphere (from Canada in the very north all the way down to the southern tip of South America, and all the countries in between), was certified polio-free in 1994. It interrupted the spread of indigenous measles in 2002 and rubella in 2009. However, globally these viruses are still circulating.  A huge global sporting event – the World Cup— takes place in Brazil this summer, attracting millions of travelers from around the world. That adds a new element of risk, increasing the risk of importation of vaccine-preventable diseases into the Americas. In light of the World Cup, VWA will highlight the importance of vaccination to protect the health of the people of the Americas, using slogans like “Vaccination: Your best shot,” and “Go on offense: Get vaccinated!”

The region launches VWA with an event on the border of two countries where leaders, community members, and partners inaugurate the week with the ceremonial vaccinating of a child by the president or other dignitary. This is then followed by rousing speeches of commitment and support, ethnic dances, and sometimes even a marching band.

In addition to the multiple launching events that will be held across the region to celebrate the 2014 initiative, the Regional launching ceremony will take place in Montevideo, Uruguay on April 26th. CDC participated in several VWA launches and will be present for VWA activities this year from 26 April – 3 May in, Honduras and Uruguay.

For me, being a part of the launch of VWA (this year’s and in previous years) is an honor not only as a CDC employee but also because the United States is a member state of the region of the Americas, so in a way I am wearing two hats, one as a representative of CDC and another as a citizen of USA. 

The parties and celebration of VWA are great but the real satisfaction is the feeling you get when you know that someone will be vaccinated as a result of VWA. Equitable access to vaccination means the promise of a healthier, happy life for millions of people.

April 7 is World Health Day

Categories: child health, infectious disease, malaria, mosquito-borne disease, neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), parasitic diseases

    

April 7 marks World Health Day. This year World Health Day focuses on vector-borne diseases. More than half the world is at risk from vector-borne diseases. What exactly is a vector? A vector is a small organism, like a tick or mosquito, that transmits disease. Malaria, dengue, Chagas Disease and lymphatic filariasis are just four examples of vector-borne infectious diseases.   

Come learn about some of these vector-borne diseases and the work that CDC does to prevent, treat, and control these diseases around the world.    

CDC Supports the Ministry of Health in Guatemala in the Creation of a National Public Health Institute

Categories: health systems strengthening

 

Guatemala National Public Institute Director, Ministry of Health Guatemala, Mayari Centeno MD, MPH (left) and CDC - Central American Regional Office Director, Nelson Arboleda, MD, MPH (right) meet with CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH (center) in CDC-Atlanta, February 2014.

Guatemala National Public Institute Director, Ministry of Health Guatemala, Mayari Centeno MD, MPH (left) and CDC - Central American Regional Office Director, Nelson Arboleda, MD, MPH (right) meet with CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH (center) in CDC-Atlanta, February 2014.

Big things often start small. So do success stories.

Nelson Arboleda, MD MPH, Director - CDC Central American Regional Office

Nelson Arboleda, MD MPH, Director - CDC Central American Regional Office

For proof, simply look to CDC’s work – and history – in Central America. From a single field station established more than 40 years ago in El Salvador by CDC’s Division of Parasitic Diseases; CDC today has a broad and respected presence across Central America and other countries in the region.

As in other parts of the world, we are working closely with public health colleagues across the region to strengthen the capacity of Ministries of Health to prevent, detect, and control disease. We work collaboratively to strengthen countries’ abilities to respond to public health threats by providing technical expertise and evidence-based foundations for a wide array of public health programs.

Addressing Childhood Tuberculosis: Shedding Light on a Hidden Epidemic

Categories: infectious disease, tuberculosis (TB)

 

Dr. Maloney consulting on a case in Taiwan

Dr. Maloney consulting on a case in Taiwan

Today is World TB Day, and while we have made great progress to control and cure TB, we must recognize that there is still more that needs to be done. TB remains an urgent public health problem in many parts of the world, often affecting the most vulnerable. In 2012, a total of 8.6 million people became ill with TB and 1.3 million died from the disease globally. TB is a leading cause of death among women worldwide, and has orphaned 10 million children in the past decade. In countries with a high burden of TB, it is also a leading cause of death among children, claiming the lives of more than 200 children each day.

That’s why today is important. World TB Day gives us another chance to renew our determination to work even harder to reach the ultimate goal – eliminating the disease.

The reasons aren’t difficult to find.

Haiti makes solid progress in reducing TB

Categories: infectious disease, tuberculosis (TB)

  

On World Tuberculosis Day, a personal account from the frontline, Haiti, which has the highest reported rates of TB in the western hemisphere. 

Macarthur Charles, MD, PhD, CDC’s TB Advisor in Haiti

Macarthur Charles, MD, PhD, CDC’s TB Advisor in Haiti

There is a certain poetic symmetry to my return to Haiti this year as tuberculosis (TB) advisor. It was exactly 10 years ago that I first set foot on Haitian soil as a doctor. The little boy who left the little town of Deschapelles in Haiti’s Artibonite Valley years ago, was back, and now able to give back to his people. 

There’s nowhere else I’d rather be right now and no other job I’d rather do. Sadly, expertise in TB is badly needed here in Haiti, which is very poor, has relatively high rates of HIV, a weak health infrastructure, and the highest reported TB prevalence rates in the western hemisphere – 300 cases per 100,000 people. The Dominican Republic, with which Haiti shares the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, has just half the number of cases. 

Saving Energy, Saving Lives: World Water Day 2014

Categories: infectious disease, water

 

Photo of a woman washing her clothes

Water is easy to take for granted until…you don’t have enough of it.

Ciara O’Reilly, PhD, Epidemiologist, CDC’s Waterborne Disease Prevention Branch

Ciara O’Reilly, PhD, Epidemiologist, CDC’s Waterborne Disease Prevention Branch

Jennifer Murphy, PhD, Microbiologist, CDC’s Waterborne Disease Prevention Branch

Jennifer Murphy, PhD, Microbiologist, CDC’s Waterborne Disease Prevention Branch

But the simple and indisputable fact is this: a sufficient supply of clean water is a necessity for life and an essential ingredient in the battle against disease.

That’s why as populations grow and demands for water increase the focus on how it’s used and conserved become more important than ever before. And it’s why CDC is working in various ways to find ways of ensuring clean water and using it wisely.

It’s the reason that this year, on World Water Day, March 22, the theme of Water and Energy is more than just a throw-away phrase.

March 10-16 Is World Salt Awareness Week

Categories: cardiovascular disease, noncommunicable diseases (NCDs)

 

This blog was originally posted on CNN.com on January 23, 2014.

 

Grocery store

Almost two years ago, Philadelphia launched its Healthy Chinese Take-out Initiative with the goal of reducing sodium content by 10% to 15%.

CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden

CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden

The city’s Public Health Department worked with 206 restaurants, first evaluating their menus for sodium content and then helping them choose ingredients and develop recipes with less sodium. One way found to reduce sodium was for restaurants to cut the use of commercially prepared sauces and instead make their own.

After nine months, the initiative analyzed two popular dishes from 20 participating restaurants to see what changed. The result? A 20% reduction in sodium, more than the project’s goal.

It’s one thing to choose how much salt to add to your food when you eat. It’s another to live with decisions made by those who prepare your food before it makes it to the table.

Preventing Maternal Deaths in Africa

Categories: HIV/AIDS, women's/maternal health

 Healthy mothers and babies

Maternal health has improved in most regions of the world, with far fewer women dying during pregnancy and childbirth than 20 years ago. 

Isabella Danel, MD, MS, CDC Division of Reproductive Health

Isabella Danel, MD, MS, CDC Division of Reproductive Health

Progress in sub-Saharan Africa, however, has been much slower. HIV and complications of childbirth are the leading causes of death among reproductive age women around the world, but above all in this region. Being pregnant in sub-Saharan Africa is often a dangerous medical condition. In Zambia, women who have given birth are often greeted with a Bemba expression of relief and surprise: “Mwapusukeni.” Translated it means, “You have survived!”

That greeting is becoming more commonplace these days, which is another way of illustrating a basic truth: positive change can happen quickly when the right actions are taken to improve maternal health.

DPDx: 15 Years of Strengthening Laboratory Capacity for Parasitic Disease Diagnosis

Categories: health security, parasitic diseases

 

CDC’s DPDx helps labs around the world identify parasites like Taenia saginata. (Photo courtesy of David Snyder/CDC Foundation)

CDC’s DPDx helps labs around the world identify parasites like Taenia saginata. (Photo courtesy of David Snyder/CDC Foundation)

The inquiries and images come from almost every state in the United States, and often with a sense of urgency. Still others arrive from Argentina and Germany, Italy, Japan, China, New Zealand, India—and dozens more countries around the globe. Each time the question for CDC’s parasite identification laboratory, known as DPDx, is the same: What is it?

Alexandre J. da Silva, PhD, CDC DPDx

Alexandre J. da Silva, PhD, CDC DPDx

The diagnostic parasitology experts on CDC’s Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria’s DPDx team provide answers.

DPDx is the effective merger of technology, laboratory science, and CDC’s unparalleled expertise in parasite identification and the diseases they cause.

DPDx is a unique online educational resource that includes visual depictions of parasite lifecycles, a reference library of free images of parasites, and guidance on proper laboratory techniques for diagnostic parasitology. But it is much more than a Web site.

The primary role of DPDx is reference diagnosis, wherein CDC laboratory scientists confirm diagnoses or discover that the diagnosis is something altogether different from what was originally thought. In both cases, but especially in the latter cases, DPDx impacts treatment. For example, Babesia microti is one of the parasites that cause the tick-borne disease babesiosis; it can be misidentified as Plasmodium falciparum, which causes malaria. The two diseases require different treatments and on many occasions, the DPDx team has corrected a misdiagnosis, ensuring that the patient is appropriately treated.

Stopping rubella in its tracks: CDC works with countries to introduce rubella vaccine

Categories: immunization, infectious disease, rubella

 

Cambodian children show off their purple marked pinkies, showing that they are protected from measles and rubella, during an immunization campaign in 2013. (Photo courtesy of Sue Chu, CDC.)

Cambodian children show off their purple marked pinkies, showing that they are protected from measles and rubella, during an immunization campaign in 2013. (Photo courtesy of Sue Chu, CDC.)

 

Pop quiz: What vaccine-preventable disease, whose name means “little red”, can cause severe birth defects if pregnant women become infected? If you answered rubella, also known as German measles, you are right.

Gavin Grant, MD, CDC Global Immunization Division

Gavin Grant, MD, CDC Global Immunization Division

Susan Reef, MD, CDC Global Immunization Division

Susan Reef, MD, CDC Global Immunization Division

It’s okay if you didn’t know, since rubella is mostly a distant memory in the United States thanks to a comprehensive and effective immunization program that’s been in place for decades.

Sadly that’s not true everywhere.

Each year there are thousands of rubella cases around the world, a number that’s made all the more tragic when there is a safe, effective vaccine. And while the number of cases has fallen, the threat remains. Rubella is spread in the same way as the common cold, through sneezing and coughing. In children rubella is typically a mild disease that may include a rash, fever and sore throat. Adults can get rubella as well—usually they experience symptoms such as rash, headache, pink eye, joint pain and general discomfort. 

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