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13 Ways CDC Has Been There for America and the World in 2012

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Photo of Hurricane Sandy courtesy of NASA

CDC has America’s back. We work around-the-clock to protect Americans from health and safety threats, both foreign and domestic. We also help people lead longer, healthier, more productive lives by preventing heart attacks, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and other leading causes of death.

Here’s a list of 13 ways CDC has been there for America and the world in 2012:

1. Multistate Fungal Meningitis Outbreak

CDC, in collaboration with state and local health departments and the Food and Drug Administration, is investigating a multistate outbreak of fungal meningitis and other infections among patients who received contaminated preservative-free MPA steroid injections from New England Compounding Center. Several patients suffered strokes that are believed to have resulted from their infections. The investigation also includes other infections from injections in a peripheral joint, such as a knee, shoulder, or ankle. Read the CDC Works for You 24/7 blog post, The Critical Role of State Health Depts. in the U.S. Fungal Meningitis Outbreak: 4 Key Efforts.

2. West Nile Virus

CDC works with state and local health departments and other government agencies, as well as private industry, to prepare for and prevent new cases of West Nile virus (WNV). There have been 5,387 human disease cases of WNV reported as of the second week in December; 2012 is probably the second largest outbreak of WNV since it first appeared in the United States in 1999.  By comparison, in the past 10 years there have been 2,845 cases of human WNV reported during the same time period. CDC will produce a full report of cases and deaths for release in the spring of next year, while continuing to manage and maintain ArboNET—a nationwide electronic surveillance system where states share information about WNV and other arboviral diseases. Supporting states to develop and carry out improved mosquito prevention and control programs is also a priority for CDC.

3. Healthcare-Associated Infections

More than 150,000 patients have been impacted by unsafe injection practices since 2001; causing irreparable damage by exposing patients to bloodborne illnesses, such as hepatitis and HIV, and to life-threatening bacterial infections. CDC routinely identifies and investigates outbreaks associated with deficient practices, and through targeted education and awareness efforts, the One & Only Campaign empowers patients and healthcare providers to insist on nothing less than safe injections – every time, for every patient.

4. Foodborne Illnesses

CDC scientists monitor up to 40 potential foodborne disease clusters on a weekly basis throughout the year and investigate more than 200 multistate clusters of foodborne illness. One of the newest and most promising programs in detecting these outbreaks is the FoodCore program, which performs comprehensive foodborne disease surveillance and conducts rapid, coordinated detection and response to multistate outbreaks in seven locations nationally.

5. Ebola

On July 28th, 2012, the Uganda Ministry of Health reported an outbreak of Ebola Hemorrhagic fever in the Kibaale District of Uganda. A total of 24 human cases (probable and confirmed only), 17 of which were fatal, have been reported since the beginning of July. Laboratory tests of blood samples, conducted by the Uganda Virus Research Institute and CDC, confirmed Ebola virus in 11 patients, four of whom have died. On October 4, 2012, 42 days after the last human case, the Uganda Ministry of Health declared the outbreak ended.

6. Rabies

Some people living in two Amazon communities in Peru survived being exposed to the rabies virus by naturally fighting it off. While avoiding rabid animal exposures and receiving shots after a person is exposed to the rabies virus is the best way to avoid getting this fatal disease, there is strong evidence that an immune response may occur in certain communities where people are regularly exposed to the virus.

7. Influenza

The United States is seeing the earliest flu season in nearly a decade, but CDC survey data through mid-November indicate that more than half of the population of the United States has not gotten a flu vaccine, leaving them vulnerable to infection possibly serious illness and to passing their illness on to others. CDC is committed to increasing awareness about the dangers of influenza and adherence to vaccine and early treatment recommendations, especially among people who are at greater risk for serious flu complications if they become ill.

8. Polio

Polio eradication is one of the highest priorities for CDC. Activation of CDC’s Emergency Operations Center earlier this year has reduced the number of polio cases greatly, and with continued agency support and CDC’s partnership with the Global Polio Eradication Initiative , we have become closer than ever to eradicating polio.

9. TIPS from FORMER Smokers

CDC launched the groundbreaking Tips From Former Smokers national ad campaign on March 15, 2012, to increase awareness about the human suffering caused by smoking and to encourage smokers to quit. During the 12-week campaign, calls to the national quitline 1-800-QUIT-NOW and visits to documented record volume. Building on the success of the TIPS campaign, new advertisements will be launched in 2013.

10. Prescription Drug Overdose 

Prescription painkiller were involved in more than 16,600 overdose deaths in 2010. This is more than four times the number of deaths in 1999. CDC has taken steps to respond to the abuse of prescription drugs by tracking abuse and overdose trends, working with stakeholders to improve clinical care, and evaluating the impact of efforts to prevent overdoses.

11. Hurricane Sandy

CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH) plays a key role in preparing the nation for all types of public health threats, including natural disasters like hurricanes. When a disaster occurs, NCEH is prepared to respond and supports national, state, and local partners to save lives and reduce suffering, while helping these partners recover and restore public health functions after the initial response. In late 2012, NCEH played a role in responding to Hurricane Sandy by delivering accurate and timely preparedness and response information to the public, our partners, and the media by using the web, social media, and traditional media. Read the CDC Works for You 24/7 blog post, NJ Newborn Screening Lab Perseveres Through Hurricane Sandy, Keeps Hundreds of Babies Safe.

12. NFL Study on Traumatic Brain Injury

CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has a long partnership with the National Football League (NFL) to study health risks to players. A new 2012 study found that NFL players may be at a higher risk of death from diseases such as Alzheimer’s and ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) than the general U.S. population.  Although the players’ risk of death from all causes was comparatively lower, death involving neurodegenerative causes was more than three times higher than in the general U.S. population. In addition, when line and non-line positions were compared, non-line position players (or “speed” players) had a higher risk of neurodegenerative death than linemen. 

13. Sleep Deprivation Study

Insufficient sleep can have serious and sometimes fatal consequences for fatigued workers and others around them. The CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reported on the issue in a MMWR report published in April 2012, finding that the prevalence of short sleep duration varied by industry of employment with a significantly higher rate among workers in the manufacturing industry compared with all U.S. workers combined. Targeted interventions, such as shift systems that maximize sleep opportunities and training programs on sleep for managers and employees, should be implemented to protect the health and safety of workers and the public.

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