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


Celebrating National Drinking Water Week 2010

Categories: Waterborne

Drinking Water Week logo

Most of us don’t stop to think about the importance of a safe and reliable water supply, but imagine what life would be like if drinking tap water meant putting yourself at risk for a serious (or even deadly) illness – or if the tap was dry.

National Drinking Water Week, sponsored by the American Water Works Association, is an annual observance that takes place this year May 2–8. The theme of the week, “Only Tap Water Delivers,” is a reminder of the many public health benefits provided by our tap water and the need to make sure that we maintain and improve our water system infrastructure so we can continue to enjoy safe water.

Dengue: The Key West Tour

Categories: Vectorborne

Aerial view of Key West (circled in red) off the coast of Florida

Aerial view of Key West (circled in red) off the coast of Florida

I often get asked about mosquito-borne dengue fever in the context of climate change. One of the first things I tell people is that it’s actually quite common outside the United States. Between 50 and 100 million cases occur each year, including about 500,000 of the really severe hemorrhagic fever type, and the numbers continue to increase. This increase is due to the usual suspects: more people moving into cities with poor sewage and scattered water containers that breed mosquitoes, increased international travel spreading the mosquito and viruses, and poor public health systems to control the mosquitoes.

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.

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