I often discuss the globalization and complexity of our food supply to highlight both the wonderful diversity of our yummy foodstuffs but also the challenges from contamination. Recently, architectural students in California provided a vivid example when they deconstructed a taco from a street-vendor to see the origin of each of the ingredients (see article) — from local cheeses to international spices and rice, which collectively travelled 64,000 miles to Juan’s Taco Truck in the San Francisco’s Mission District. State and federal public health officials do the same thing whenever there is a food-borne outbreak — identify the likely suspect and trace it back to its source — whether it be the grocery store, food distributor, factory, slaughterhouse, or farm. This is easier with what are called commodity outbreaks: ground beef or spinach, for example. Tracking down the source is extremely difficult, however, when the contamination is an ingredient that may be in many different foods.
Sharing our stories on preparing for and responding to public health events
April 8th, 2010 10:34 am ET - Ali S. Khan
Categories: Zoonotic Disease
March 18th, 2010 10:13 am ET - Joanna Regan
I am a pediatrician by training, and people are often amused by that fact when I tell them what my job responsibilities sometimes include. Going door-to-door putting tick collars on dogs and treating yards with pesticide are not activities people typically associate with their children’s doctor. However, this is exactly what my team and I were doing last summer.
I am a medical officer at the CDC in the Rickettsial Zoonoses Branch, and my team consisted of public health specialists, including veterinarians and scientists. We traveled to eastern Arizona last summer to join with a group of concerned community members to tackle Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF), a serious public health threat in this region.
March 3rd, 2010 10:21 am ET - Kis Robertson
We often talk about what we’ve done to help others stay free of infectious diseases. But something that often goes unstated is the training we provide that gives other health and medical professionals the tools to keep people healthy. Although a lot of this work happens here in the United States, the assistance we provide to other countries facing overwhelming disease outbreaks is also important.
February 24th, 2010 4:11 pm ET - Adam MacNeil
As scientists with CDC’s Special Pathogens Branch, Pierre Rollin, Bobbie Rae Erickson, and I recently boarded a flight from Atlanta to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, so that we could provide health officials with our expertise on Alkhurma virus. This virus causes Alkhurma hemorrhagic fever, a tick-borne disease that can be serious, even fatal, in humans. Ticks with the Alkhurma virus are believed to pass the virus on to camels, sheep, and goats. It’s not a new disease, but it is a high-hazard disease that we have much to learn about.
February 11th, 2010 2:05 pm ET - Nicki Pesik
On December 17th, Health Protection Scotland contacted the Bacterial Zoonosis Branch (BZB) to discuss 3 cases of anthrax in heroin users. They requested assistance with the epidemiologic investigation and patient treatment options, such as adjunctive therapy with anthrax immune globulin. Because immunotherapy is of potential benefit in anthrax, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and CDC provided immune globulin for patients with anthrax.
November 6th, 2009 3:18 pm ET - Ali S. Khan
The influence of weather on infectious diseases has been recognized for centuries. In our own experience, we know that some diseases like influenza are more common in the winter or others thrive better in the tropics. The effects of climate – weather over long periods of time – on infectious diseases have been getting a lot of attention lately. I was recently interviewed for a Focus Earth episode on infectious diseases and climate change. The introductory clip frames a debate between a calculated scientific position for the impact on individual infectious disease versus broad generalizations about global warming. It makes for great television and offers an opportunity to educate and engage the public about the health impact of climate change. In this case, both positions are true but highlight the difficulties in communicating the complexity of health effects from climate change – especially when we try to isolate the effects of climate from other biologic, ecologic, or social changes that lead to changes in infectious diseases.
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