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NCIS Atlanta: Severe Rash Illness in Baja

Categories: Vectorborne

Specimen captured in the Sanorales Region by Biologist Beatriz Salceda of the Entomology Department of the Institute of Epidemiological Diagnosis and Reference of the Ministry of Health, Mexico. Photo courtesy of Dr. Rocío Sánchez, Medical Epidemiologist of the Directorate General of Epidemiology (DGE), leader of the outbreak invetsigation team.

Specimen captured in the Sanorales Region by Biologist Beatriz Salceda of the Entomology Department of the Institute of Epidemiological Diagnosis and Reference of the Ministry of Health, Mexico. Photo courtesy of Dr. Rocío Sánchez, Medical Epidemiologist of the Directorate General of Epidemiology (DGE), leader of the outbreak invetsigation team.

A mysterious cluster of illnesses and deaths of unknown cause was recently reported in Baja California, a Mexican state that – as the Spanish translation suggests – is situated just below the California-Mexico border. Our shared border with Mexico fosters a mutual interest in epidemiologic events like this one — where time is of the essence and lives are at stake.

Simian Malaria in Humans: Hard to Tell

Categories: General

Long-tailed macaque.

Malaria is preventable and treatable. However, each year 350–500 million cases of malaria occur worldwide, and more than a million people die, most of them young children in sub-Saharan Africa. In the U.S., about 1,500 people get malaria annually, almost all from traveling to countries where malaria is transmitted. In 2006, six people in the United States died from malaria.

Food Safety: Need for Speed

Categories: Foodborne

Vehicle lights shown in an accelerated state on a highway at night.

CDC plays a vital role but public health happens at the local level thanks to the work of thousands of our state, territorial, tribal, city, and county public health professionals. So it is always a pleasure to meet with state epidemiologists, leaders in using epidemiologic data to guide public health practice and improve health.  On January 29th, I met with the Executive Board of the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists [CSTE]. Needless to say, the conversation quickly strayed to the current Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak associated with peanut butter produced at a Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) facility in Blakely, Georgia. These conversations among colleagues are noteworthy for being quite frank.

Imported Marburg Hemorrhagic Fever: One That Got Away

Categories: Vectorborne

Two people standing at the python cave opening, home of the fruit bats thought to harbor Marburg virus.

CDC’s Special Pathogens Branch recently diagnosed a case of Marburg hemorrhagic fever in a U.S. traveler, who returned from Uganda back in January 2008 [SPB posting]. This person had visited the famous “python cave” in Maramagambo Forest, Queen Elizabeth Park, western Uganda. Fortunately, no one seems to have been infected from this patient when she was hospitalized. But we are never more than 24 hours away from the next new infectious disease.

Ingredient Driven Outbreaks: The Inside is Bigger than the Outside

Categories: Foodborne, Response

Austin peanut butter crackers

The current Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak associated with a peanut processing plant in Blakely, Georgia, appears to have begun in September 2008, and was first detected in mid-November 2008 by DNA fingerprinting of Salmonella in public health labs across the country [last blog link]. The broad distribution of peanut butter and peanut paste shipped to food manufacturing companies from this single plant throughout the country has triggered the recall of nearly two hundred food products and exposed a critical factor supporting the continued emergency of food-borne outbreaks.

Salmonella Typhimurium Outbreak Investigation: Do Not Try This at Home

Categories: Foodborne, Response

 female scientist looking through a microscope

The Enteric Diseases programs at CDC have been collaborating with state public health officials, the USDA-Food Safety and Inspection Service, and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate a multi-state outbreak of human infections due to Salmonella serotype Typhimurium affecting almost 400 persons. There are numerous interesting features of this outbreak that highlight the complex issues I discussed recently for foodborne outbreaks. In this case, there was an early unrelated, but overlapping outbreak, several PulseNet patterns involved in the outbreak, a State Health Department being the first to pull the trigger for a product advisory, and a contaminated ingredient that is in many foods.

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