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Press Release

For Immediate Release: November 2, 1998
Contact: CDC Media Relations (404) 639-3286

CDC RELEASES EMERGING INFECTIOUS DISEASES PLAN

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released today the second phase of a plan to combat emerging infectious diseases. The plan, Preventing Emerging Infectious Diseases: A Strategy for the 21st Century, provides a detailed description of CDC's effort to understand, detect, control, and prevent national and international emerging infectious diseases.

"Infectious diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide and third leading cause of death in the United States. They result in billions of dollars in medical costs in this country each year," said CDC Director Dr. Jeffrey Koplan in releasing the report. "The aim of this plan is to build a stronger, more flexible public health system that is well prepared to respond to known disease problems, as well as to address the unexpected, whether it be an influenza pandemic, a disease caused by an unknown organism, or a bioterrorist attack."

Societal, technological, behavioral, environmental, and microbial factors continue to have a dramatic affect on infectious diseases worldwide, resulting in the emergence of new diseases or the reemergence of old ones, sometimes in drug resistant forms. Several recent health events underscore the need for a public health system ready to address whatever disease problems arise. For example, in 1996 a strain of Staphylococcus aureus with diminished susceptibility to the antibiotic vancomycin, the last line of antibiotics used to treat these infections, was identified in Japan and subsequently during 1997 in the United States. In 1997 an avian strain of influenza that had never before infected humans began to kill previously healthy persons in Hong Kong.

This updated plan builds on some of the experiences, accomplishments, and knowledge gained since the implementation in 1994 of the first plan: Addressing Emerging Infectious Disease Threats: A Prevention Strategy for the United States. The four major goals of the plan focus on: a)surveillance and response, b)applied research, c)public health infrastructure and training, and d) prevention and control. The plan targets nine categories of problems that cause human suffering and place a burden on society including antibiotic resistance, foodborne and waterborne diseases, and chronic diseases caused by infectious agents just to name a few.

CDC has been incrementally implementing the 1994 plan as appropriations have become available. The updated plan is expected to cost $200 million annually over the next five years to implement. "We've made progress. The national, state, and local capacity to detect and respond to emerging infections is better now than it was in 1994," said Dr. James Hughes, director of the National Center for Infectious Diseases at CDC. "However, we still have a long way to go."

Dr. Hughes said obtaining the goals outlined in the plan will require the dedicated efforts of many CDC partners including state and local health departments, other federal agencies, professional societies, universities, research institutes, health care providers, and many other national and international organizations. "The burden of infectious disease on society is tremendous, and none of these groups can deal with these issues alone," he said.

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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

 
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