CDC Hosts International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases

Presentations include a wide range of health threats in U.S. and internationally

Press Release

For Immediate Release: Monday, August 27, 2018
Contact: Media Relations
(404) 639-3286

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Task Force for Global Healthexternal icon, Inc., are hosting the 2018 International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases (ICEID) today through Wednesday in Atlanta. Held every 2-3 years, the ICEID brings together more than 1,500 public health professionals from around the world to encourage the exchange of the latest information on issues affecting the emergence, spread, and control of infectious diseases.

ICEID 2018external icon marks the 10th occurrence of this premier infectious disease conference. The program includes plenary and panel sessions with invited speakers, oral abstract and poster presentations, and scientific and public health exhibitors—all focusing on emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases.

Major topics to be presented include surveillance and outbreak response, antimicrobial resistance, genomic and molecular epidemiology, emerging vector-borne and zoonotic diseases, foodborne and waterborne illnesses, healthcare-associated infections, influenza and other respiratory infections, disease elimination and eradication, and challenges posed by disease threats in the United States and internationally.

Noteworthy presentations and posters at this year’s conference include:

  • Mold exposure and use of personal protective equipment during cleanup following Hurricane Harvey – In late August 2017, many people were exposed to extensive mold growth after Hurricane Harvey due to record flooding. People with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for fatal invasive mold infections. Research found that over a third of at-risk people from three hospital systems were extensively exposed to mold, and not all of them wore personal protective equipment (respirator, gloves, boots, and goggles) during cleanup. Additional messaging and outreach about preventing mold exposure may be needed for people at high risk for invasive mold infections.
  • Misidentified Candida auris – support through the new Antibiotic Resistance Lab Network  – Candida auris, an emerging multidrug-resistant fungus found in healthcare settings, is unlike other Candida found in healthcare settings because it persists in the environment and spreads easily from patient to patient. Timely identification of Candida auris is critical to preventing the spread of illness, but sometimes clinical laboratories can mis-identify this fungus. U.S. laboratories can submit Candida isolates to the Antibiotic Resistance Laboratory Network for assistance with rapid identification of Candida auris cases.
  • Deaths due to infections in people who use alcohol, opioids and illegal drugs – Abuse of opioids, illegal drugs, and alcohol can wreak havoc on the user’s life and health and can increase their risk for fatal infections. Analysis of autopsy tissues sent to CDC’s pathology lab from 2016 to May 2018 revealed that about one-quarter (104 cases) had a history of substance use. Of those, about three-quarters died before hospitalization, and 65 percent had possible infectious causes of death including pneumonia, staph infection, flu, tuberculosis and amoebas. More tracking of infectious disease-related deaths, particularly those that fall under the medical examiner or coroner jurisdiction, could help show the full spectrum of harms contributing to early deaths among substance users.
  • Disease elimination and eradication– polio, measles, rubella – During the past 30 years, we have seen remarkable achievements in the fight against three vaccine-preventable diseases – polio, measles and rubella. The number of wild polio cases, for example, has fallen so sharply that there is legitimate reason to believe that this once dreaded disease can be eliminated. Only 14 cases of polio in 2 countries have occurred worldwide to date in 2018.  Impressive gains have also been realized in the battle against measles and rubella. An estimated 90,000 children died from measles in 2016 – an 84 percent drop from more than 550,000 deaths in 2000. This is an historic low although still unacceptably high.  Rubella disease is also at a record low level globally.  However, challenges remain.
  • Addressing neglected tropical diseases:  Focus on Guinea Worm – Despite the high burden of morbidity they impose, neglected tropical diseases are often lower priorities for countries with limited public health resources. These diseases, which include Guinea worm disease, occur in 149 countries and severely impact the lives of more than 2 billion people. Despite the challenges, there has been remarkable progress in combatting these diseases. For example, the Guinea Worm Eradication Program (GWEP) and leadership in affected countries pushed down the number of cases from 3.5 million in 1986 to 30 human cases in 2017. Although the end of the Guinea worm disease era seems near, unexpected complications such as Guinea worm transmission in dogs in Chad and a human case in Angola—a country that has never before had documented Guinea worm disease—test the program in new ways.
  • Rift Valley Fever Virus re-emergence in Uganda, 2017-18 – An outbreak of Rift Valley fever (RVF) in Uganda in 2016 marked the first confirmed cases of the serious fatal illness in 50 years. Since then, six additional cases were reported; five of them fatal. CDC and local experts sought to learn more about the virus’s re-emergence. A survey of livestock in affected districts found 12 percent of livestock had antibodies showing the animals had recently been infected with RVF virus. Analysis of samples from three human cases showed the strain was related to a 2006-2007 widespread outbreak in animals in Uganda, suggesting it may have been circulating undetected since then.
  • Post-Hurricane Leptospirosis case increase in Puerto Rico, October – December 2017 – Hurricanes and flooding can increase the risk for leptospirosis, a serious bacterial infection spread by animal urine. In the three months after two hurricanes struck Puerto Rico in September 2017, leptospirosis cases more than doubled over the same time in previous years. The total of confirmed and probable cases (83) was more than were reported in each of the three previous years and included 14 deaths. Rapidly detecting cases and getting patients treated can help decrease the severity and length of illness.
  • Genomic characterization of viruses in camels from United Arab Emirates (UAE) – Dromedary camels have emerged as the likely source of MERS – a coronavirus that can cause severe respiratory disease in humans, similar to SARS. It’s become increasingly clear that camels play a role in spreading disease to people, especially in areas where people regularly interact and keep camels for transportation, milk and meat, etc. Scientists used next generation sequencing to test RNA from nasal swabs of camels in the United Arab Emirates and found five recently discovered camel viruses that were all genetically close to viruses that can infect people and animals, including Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic Fever virus.
  • Infectious causes of child mortality – Public health programs in every country strive to reduce the rate of childhood mortality. CDC shares that focus and supports experts across many disciplines working both domestically and globally on programs that describe causes for childhood death with the goal of prevention. Emory University leads the Child Health and Mortality Prevention Surveillance Network (CHAMPS) with scientific support from CDC and other partners. CHAMPS is beginning to identify the leading causes of childhood mortality and provide crucial data for effective response.
  • Differences in Legionnaires Disease incidence among counties—United States – In general, the number of Legionnaires disease cases reported to CDC has been on the rise since 2000.  More cases are seen in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern Central regions than in the south and west.  Scientists looked at county-level Legionnaires disease data over five years and found that while many of the counties with highest rates were located in the previously known “Legionella belt,” most regions had counties with rates well above the average for the region. Reasons for this might include population or large building density as well as differences in testing practices.


The full conference agenda is available at http://www.iceid.orgexternal icon.

Registration is complimentary for members of the news media. Reporters may contact Christine Pearson at 404-639-7582 or to register. Media who are unable to attend may contact the CDC Press Office at 404-639-3286 to request interviews with specific presenters during the conference.

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Page last reviewed: August 27, 2018