MMWR News Synopsis

Friday, December 20, 2019

Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana and Illicit Drugs Among Persons Aged ≥16 Years — United States, 2018

CDC Media Relations

Driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol is a serious public health concern that kills about 30 people a day. In 2018, 12 million Americans aged 16 and older reported driving under the influence of marijuana and 2.3 million reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs other than marijuana. Although lower than the 20.5 million who reported driving under the influence of alcohol in 2018, driving under the influence of marijuana and other illicit drugs is a growing concern, especially among youth and young adults.

Estimating the Incidence of Influenza at the State Level — Utah, 2016–17 and 2017–18 Influenza Seasons

CDC Media Relations

Timely state- or local-level estimates of the number of people who are ill and seek medical care due to influenza (flu) contribute to preparedness and communication messages needed during flu season and in the event of a flu pandemic. As flu season approaches, pilot work done at the Utah Department of Health and Salt Lake County Health Department to estimate seasonal flu burden and severity may help inspire other health departments to adopt similar measures. Methods used by CDC to estimate the numbers of people who are ill, seek medical care, or who are hospitalized due to flu nationally were applied for the first time at state and local levels. Results showed that in Utah during the 2017-18 flu season, approximately 11% of Utah residents were sick due to flu, and 3,900 of these people had severe flu illness requiring hospitalization. These findings complement a previous report ( on real-time flu season severity estimation in Utah that is now actively used in the state ( icon). State or county health departments may consider adapting these reproducible methods in their jurisdictions to estimate local flu disease burden and severity to help public health officials, policymakers, and clinicians tailor flu messaging, planning, and responses for seasonal flu epidemics and pandemics.

Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak — Democratic Republic of the Congo, August 2018–November 2019

CDC Media Relations

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) Ministry of Health (MoH), along with international partners, have improved the MoH’s ability to respond to the DRC’s current Ebola epidemic and to identify targeted intervention strategies for affected health zones. However, because this outbreak is happening in the context of more violence than seen in earlier outbreaks, there is a need for innovative approaches beyond the conventional Ebola response. On August 1, 2018, the DRC MoH declared the tenth outbreak of Ebola virus disease (Ebola) in DRC, in the North Kivu Province in eastern DRC on the border with Uganda. From the beginning of the outbreak to November 17, 2019, a total of 3,296 Ebola cases and 2,196 (67%) deaths were reported, making this the second largest documented outbreak after the 2014–2016 epidemic in West Africa. Since August 2018, the DRC MoH has been collaborating with international partners to control the outbreak. Although the DRC has successfully contained Ebola outbreaks in the past, challenges specific to North Kivu and Ituri provinces have complicated outbreak control. Limited infrastructure and resources, armed conflict, and community distrust of local authorities and international partners are major challenges faced by the Ebola response.

Notes from the Field

Methyl mercury is an extremely dangerous toxicant. Its presence in a consumer product, such as a skin lightening cream, presents a public health threat. Researchers report a case of methyl mercury poisoning from a skin lightening cream obtained in Mexico. Other than a single case of a laboratory scientist poisoned with a similar mercury compound, this is the first case of such organic mercury poisoning in the U.S. in nearly 50 years.

This is the first reported case of Shewanella haliotis in the Americas. This case highlights the importance of preventing seafood-associated infections. Shewanella haliotis is an emerging human pathogen. S. haliotis is ecologically distributed in marine environments including broad contamination of cultivated shellfish. Consumption of raw seafood can be an important vehicle for foodborne illnesses and outbreaks. The epidemiologic exposure history in this case supports the link between raw fish consumption and infection. This case highlights the importance of preventing seafood-associated infections and the need to consider rare human pathogens in immunocompromised, marine-exposed populations, as well as persons who might have been infected outside the United States.



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Page last reviewed: December 19, 2019