Why it Matters: Stories From the Field
CDC is committed to strengthening the nation’s health security by protecting against public health threats, whether they begin at home or abroad, or if they are natural or man-made. We know that when we don’t respond quickly and to scale, outbreaks become epidemics, natural disasters become crucibles for illness, and the human toll of terrorist attacks can mount.
State and local health departments must stand ready to handle many different types of emergencies that threaten the health and resilience of families, communities, and the nation. Having people who know what to do, and having the resources in place to allow them to do their jobs, saves lives.
As one of the nation’s most critical public health investments,pdf icon we have an obligation to capture our work through stories from the field and share lessons that inform our strategy over time for CDC’s preparedness and response investments.
When the Zika Virus outbreak threatened the health of pregnant women and children across the country, having trained, skilled staff at CDC leading the response was critical. Thanks to CDC’s Incident Manager Training and Development program, Commander Brett Petersen was ready to help lead a successful response.
A PHEP-funded mobile pharmacy, created for use during emergencies, has turned out to be an important tool in fighting Kentucky’s devastating opioid overdose epidemic. Pharmacists travel with the mobile pharmacy to areas most affected by the epidemic and provide naloxone kits and training directly to communities in need.
CDC has linked corporate partners with local health departments to help fight Zika. During popular community events known as Zika Action Days, community members receive valuable Zika prevention information and products. Events have been held in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Florida.
In spring 2018, an Oregon resident arrived at an urgent care center with a fever, chest pain, body aches, and vomiting. Her physician suspected bacterial pneumonia and prescribed an antibiotic. What the clinician didn’t know was that the patient had been exposed to a bacterium called Francisella tularensis (F. tularensis), which can cause a life-threatening illness.
Nebraska’s communities rely on clinical labs to quickly identify dangerous pathogens, particularly during emergencies like a biological terrorism incident or an infectious disease outbreak. Because these laboratories handle potentially dangerous pathogens, it is critical that laboratory staff are trained in the most effective identification methods.
CDC has placed preparedness staff across the nation to support state and local health departments. In 2017, 90 Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) Cooperative Agreement-funded field staff were assigned to 58 different awardee locations, including 46 states, 4 localities, and 8 U.S. territories.
In 2013, a case of acute flaccid paralysis was detected in Syria by the Early Warning Alert and Response Network, a joint surveillance system managed by the World Health Organization and CDC. Soon after, more patient specimens were tested in the laboratory and found positive for polio. In all, thirty-six cases of polio were identified in Syria, followed by 2 more cases in Iraq…
CDC has linked corporate partners with local health departments to help fight Zika in areas most affected by the virus. Through this strategy, corporate partners like Home Depot, Ace Hardware, and Walgreens co-sponsored community events known as Zika Action Days with local health departments; corporate partners have helped get Zika prevention information and products along with Zika Prevention Kits for pregnant women to community members who attended events in Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Florida.
Federal Medical Station strike teams—teams of logistics experts deployed to assist with set up—arrived in Houston, TX, just hours after Hurricane Harvey made landfall. According to Steve Holland, a member of one of the strike teams, “Once we received orders to move the supplies to Houston, our Strategic National Stockpile liaison coordinated with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to plan a route for us…
The United States experienced severe hurricanes, wildfires, and other natural disasters in 2017. These events highlight the importance of community resilience, the sustained ability of communities to withstand and recover from adversity…
More than 52,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2015; among those, more than 33,000 involved a prescription or illicit opioid. Standing on the front lines of the U.S. opioid epidemic are state and local emergency response systems. As states like Virginia and Massachusetts declare public health emergencies, they draw on the infrastructure that CDC has helped build nationwide since 9/11 to empower first responders, improve surveillance, and develop critical laboratory tests
CDC’s laboratory inspectors keep tabs on the nation’s critical select agent and toxin laboratories. Laboratory inspections generally last about 3 days and require that inspectors travel to sites all over the country, usually going out about once a month. And the job is never dull…
When states reach out for help, a CDC Emergency Response Team (CERT) stands ready to answer the call. A CERT is a highly trained group of public health experts who can travel anywhere in the country to meet the unique needs of requesting states. It is a flexible team that can give as much – or as little – support as requested, whether it’s sending epidemiologists, laboratorians, and vector control experts into the field or providing answers from headquarters
To make sure the latest science is available for state, local, and territorial health departments during a public health emergency, CDC activates the State Coordination Task Force (SCTF) within the Emergency Operations Center. The task force has been instrumental during the Zika response in helping communities prepare for and respond to the outbreak
Before the current Zika outbreak – in 2015 – CDC had already begun developing the Trioplex Real-time RT-PCR (rRT-PCR) Assay. The Trioplex allows labs to detect three viruses at once: chikungunya, dengue, and Zika. These viruses often occur in the same areas, are carried by the same mosquito, and cause similar symptoms in patients
After Superstorm Sandy, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, including CDC, funded 31 projects to evaluate resiliency and recovery in areas related to healthcare delivery, the public health system response, risk communication, worker safety, environmental and occupational hazards, and the physical and mental health impacts on the general population