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No. 2, 2010

DTBE Staff Respond to the 2009 H1N1 Flu

Between April 25, 2009, and February 27, 2010, forty-two Division of Tuberculosis Elimination (DTBE) staff were reassigned from their regular TB duties to respond to the 2009 H1N1 flu. Their cumulative contributions totaled approximately 1,000 days of H1N1 work. A big thank you is due, not only to these 42 staff, but also to their colleagues who, in their absence, took on additional work to prevent lapses in DTBE’s mission.

Soon after the novel H1N1 influenza virus was detected in mid-April 2009, CDC activated the Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Numerous DTBE staff were subsequently assigned to work in the EOC in April through June 2009, including the DTBE director, other senior leadership, and Atlanta-based staff from six branches. Staff from the Mycobacteriology Laboratory Branch helped provide surge support to other laboratories in CDC’s Coordinating Center for Infectious Diseases. Other DTBE epidemiologists were deployed to investigate outbreaks in Mexico, Chicago, and Delaware, and to support H1N1 surveillance in Thailand. In addition, numerous field staff from the Field Services and Evaluation Branch were deployed to help staff CDC Quarantine Stations or reassigned to work in local public health emergency operations units.

A second phase of DTBE’s H1N1 flu response began in August 2009, when CDC Director Thomas Frieden directed all employees to consider pandemic H1N1 response to be the agency’s top priority. DTBE’s primary obligation to the EOC over the subsequent 6 months was to continuously staff the Medical Care and Countermeasures Task Force, a clinically oriented group whose emphasis was guidance for healthcare institutions and providers. Thirteen DTBE medical officers rotated through the EOC and worked, for example, to facilitate emergency access to antiviral medication for seriously ill individuals.

As the H1N1 vaccine became available in November 2009, DTBE public health advisors were deployed to California, Kansas, and New Mexico to assist with vaccine distribution. Another DTBE epidemiologist was detailed to analyze national utilization data during the intensive November–December 2009 vaccine uptake phase.

As the 2009–2010 flu season appears to be tapering off in the United States, public health staff are encouraged to remain vigilant and informed about current trends. Vaccination remains our best protection against both seasonal and 2009 H1N1 flu.

Make it your practice to get vaccinated each fall. The 2010–2011 U.S. influenza vaccine will confer protection against A/California/7/2009-like (2009 H1N1), A/Perth/16/2009-like (H3N2), and B/Brisbane/60/2008-like (B/Victoria lineage) viruses. You can also take everyday actions to stay healthy. Wash your hands often with soap and water, and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. To protect others, cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. And stay home if you are sick!

—Submitted by Maryam Haddad and Heather Duncan
Div of TB Elimination


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