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Selected Category: Vectorborne

Rabies Scare Leads to Quick Public Health Action

Categories: Disease Investigation, Disease Outbreak, Vectorborne, Zoonotic Disease

Bats

By Jacquelyn Lickness

When a hospital in South Carolina spotted bats flying through its facility, officials sprang into action launching an investigation to prevent a possible rabies outbreak. Because bats are commonly infected with the virus, any contact with the flying mammals is taken very seriously. The hospital quickly involved state public health officials, who then reached out to CDC to help investigate any possible exposure to the rabies virus.

Coming (Back) to America? What 2013 Can Teach Us About Dengue in the United States

Categories: Disease Investigation, Disease Outbreak, Prevention/Vaccination, Response, Vectorborne

jumbled picture of words related to dengue feverBy Tyler Sharp

2013 was a banner year for dengue in the United States: an outbreak with 22 associated cases was identified in Florida; another outbreak was detected in south Texas along the U.S./Mexico border;  Aedes aegypti, the most efficient mosquito vector of dengue, was detected in central-California; a locally acquired dengue case was detected outside of NYC; and Puerto Rico experienced a sizeable dengue epidemic that had been ongoing  since late 2012.  So, what’s next?  Is this par for the course, or was 2013 an anomaly?  In this blog, I’ll discuss the history of dengue in the U.S., what the future might hold, and what you can do to reduce your risk of getting infected while at home or abroad.

The Reality of Outbreak Investigations: Dengue in Angola

Categories: Disease Investigation, Disease Outbreak, General, Vectorborne

Aerial view of AngolaBy Tyler Sharp and Ryan R. Hemme

Wanna know a secret? Here it is. Chances are, the same reason you’re reading this blog is why many folks at CDC do what they do: a fascination with infectious diseases and a desire to help others. Although the work of CDC employees is frequently glamorized in movies like Outbreak and Contagion, we face the same challenges as any other large, complex organization: communication, logistics, funding, and teamwork. These challenges become especially apparent when outbreaks occur, such as during CDC’s recent response to a dengue outbreak in Angola. Based on our experiences in Angola, this blog will dispel 5 myths about outbreak investigation that are often dramatized by Hollywood.

West Nile Virus: Recent Surge in Cases Sparks Concern in Texas

Categories: Disease Outbreak, General, Vectorborne

Texas state flagWest Nile virus season is off to an early start this year, which doesn’t bode well for what’s to come. Most West Nile virus exposures in the United States occur from July through October, with a peak during the first two weeks of August. Peak season in Texas is under way, and there are already 336 cases of West Nile illnesses, including 14 deaths reported as of August 13, making this the largest outbreak of West Nile virus in Texas since 2003. The virus has been appearing in many parts of the country, but almost half of the cases are in Texas and the numbers are rising.

Real-life Contagion: Part 2

Categories: Disease Investigation, General, Response, Vectorborne

picture of a newspaper ad over a picture of patients in a makeshift hospital ward

By Tyler M. Sharp, PhD

Before we left off in Part 1 I had just gotten on a boat to visit a small atoll in the Marshall Islands affected by the dengue outbreak…

Man holding lab equipment in his hand while several other people look on

Establishing surveillance on the outer islands included monitoring for dengue-like symptoms and testing with a rapid diagnostic test, demonstrated here

A few days earlier we had identified a small cluster of cases on Arno, a small atoll about 30 miles from Majuro. I traveled by boat to Arno where I was able to provide clinical education, help the health assistants set up surveillance, and teach them how to use the dengue rapid diagnostic test. The hours on the boat gave me plenty of time to relax, think, and plan my next move: something that I probably would not have done if I had stayed in Majuro. Luckily, my WHO colleague had much more experience in emergency management than I, and he had done an excellent job of getting things under control back at the hospital.

Real-life Contagion: Governments unite to fight dengue outbreak in Marshall Islands

Categories: Disease Investigation, General, Vectorborne

picture of a newspaper ad over a picture of patients in a makeshift hospital ward

By Tyler M. Sharp, PhD

The whole thing was straight out of a movie.  An outbreak of dengue fever on a small island chain in the middle of the Pacific. A local government requesting assistance to control the outbreak.  In the end, CDC, the US Department of Defense, the World Health Organization (WHO), USAID, local governments as well as those of Taiwan, Japan and Australia were involved in the response. If we were going to succeed in our mission, we all had to communicate and work together. Amazingly, through concerted teamwork over many long days, we ultimately worked as one unit and beat the outbreak. 

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