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Sharing our stories on preparing for and responding to public health events


Bringing Vaccines to a Location Near You

Categories: Prevention/Vaccination

Girls smiling and showing off their band-aids

Vaccines are in the news, on the minds of parents, in commercials, and on Oprah’s couch. Childhood vaccination has been bolstered by recommendations developed by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices with the participation and consensus of the nation’s medical professional organizations. It has been institutionalized as a part of pediatric practice.

Food-borne Outbreaks Caused By Ingredients: Would You Like Some Pepper With That?

Categories: Foodborne

 Child shying away from pepper seasoning.

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.

Rolling Up Our Sleeves to Fight Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Categories: Zoonotic Disease

CDC scientist Linda Cheng, collaring dogs in Arizona.

CDC scientist Linda Cheng, collaring dogs in Arizona.

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.

Globe Hopping, Rabies Stopping: Outreach to DRC

Categories: Vectorborne, Zoonotic Disease

Dr. Richard Franka and Lillian Orciani provide guidance to laboratory staff.

Lillian Orciari and Dr. Richard Franka (far right) provide guidance to laboratory staff in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

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.

Hemorrhagic Fever in Saudi Arabia: Following the Ticks

Categories: Vectorborne

Bobbie Rae Erickson (center, in black) of CDC's Special Pathogens Branch meets with Saudi and other scientists near a goat pen to learn about Alkhurma virus transmission in livestock.

Bobbie Rae Erickson (center, in black) of CDC's Special Pathogens Branch meets with Saudi and other scientists near a goat pen to learn about Alkhurma virus transmission in livestock.

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.

Helping Scotland Investigate, Treat Anthrax Among Heroin Users

Categories: Anthrax

Drs. Shadomy and Stauffer standing in the snow.

Drs. Shadomy and Stauffer. Click on the image to see the full picture.

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.

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