On Public Health Security - December 2016 - From A to Zika, Recapping CDC’s Emergency Preparedness and Response Work in 2016

On Public Health Security - December 2016 - From A to Zika, Recapping CDC’s Emergency Preparedness and Response Work in 2016

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On Public Health Security
December 2016
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Stephen C. Redd

Dear Partners,

As we approach the end of the year, I would like to take a moment to recognize the progress we’ve made in public health preparedness and response, and extend a thank you for your unwavering support. You—our partners at all levels of government, in non-governmental organizations and in the private sector—make the work possible. While we have more to do, I hope you will take a moment to reflect on a few of this year’s proudest accomplishments.

Zika Virus Response

Earlier in 2016, CDC’s EOC managed four concurrent responses, the most notable being the Zika response. Although the response has been ongoing since January 22nd, its pace increased dramatically in April after CDC scientists concluded that Zika virus infection causes microcephaly and other birth defects. As of December 13th, 848 CDC employees have completed international and territorial deployments in response to Zika, with 58 currently deployed, and 29 awaiting deployment. In addition, with the support of the CDC Foundation we have assembled more than 25,000 Zika Prevention Kits (ZPKs) for U.S. territories. With local mosquito-borne Zika virus infection reported in November in Texas, we know our work is far from complete. We will continue to work with our state and local partners to protect the health of our communities.

Global Health Security Agenda

Back in January, I highlighted CDC’s continued commitment to the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) and supporting 17 countries in their capacity to prevent, detect, and effectively respond to infectious disease threats. This year, CDC conducted on-site planning workshops in Ethiopia, Uganda and Cameroon under the GHSA Medical Countermeasures and Personnel Deployment Action Package. In addition, we conducted initial assessment visits in 16 of the 17 participating countries and helped to identify Emergency Operations Center (EOC) facilities or space in 14 of the 17 countries. We also trained local first responders in 11 of the 17 countries, conducting exercises or providing technical assistance to 6 countries during 10 actual responses. Disease threats can spread faster and more unpredictably than ever before in today’s interconnected world and CDC will continue to work with other U.S. agencies and global partners to promote global health security as an international priority.

Work with Select Agents

CDC ensures that work with pathogens that pose a severe threat to public health and safety is conducted as safely and securely as possible. In September, CDC published the Interim Final Rule for Bacillus cereus biovar anthracis, adding this emerging pathogen to the list of HHS select agents and toxins that are Tier 1 agents. Tier 1 agents pose the greatest risk of deliberate misuse and a severe threat to the public’s health. The public comment period has now closed and a Final Rule will be issued. The Federal Select Agent Program (FSAP) continues to address and respond to recommendations from multiple external reviews of the program, and in June released a public report of aggregate program data to increase program transparency.

State and Local Medical Countermeasure Capabilities

In last month’s edition of “On Public Health Security”, I mentioned that one of CDC’s top priorities is to ensure that the nation’s largest and most populated areas have the capacity to rapidly distribute lifesaving medical supplies in a large-scale emergency. In 2015 and 2016, CDC and state health departments assessed the ability of 487 jurisdictions to distribute and dispense medical countermeasures. These jurisdictions comprise the 72 CRI (Cities Readiness Initiative) cities and represent about 60% of the US population. Through this process we identified barriers to achieving response readiness, including insufficient staffing for points of dispensing (POD) operations and security. To address these gaps, CDC offers ongoing virtual and in-person training to increase state and local expertise in MCM planning, while also sharing guidance documents and other resources for MCM distribution and dispensing.

I hope you’ll also take a look at the 5 big lessons we learned during 2016. I am optimistic that we will make even more progress in 2017 and look forward to working with you to make that happen. Thank you for your continued support, and I wish you and your families a safe and joyful holiday season.

Thank you,

Stephen C. Redd, MD
Director, Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention



 Training Opportunity

CDC is offering the Foundations of Public Health Preparedness training plan via CDC TRAIN. This training plan is based on the Public Health Preparedness and Response Core Competency Model.

 Upcoming Events

Be part of RES/CON, an annual international conference focused on resiliency and disaster management that takes place in New Orleans, Louisiana on March 7th-9th, 2017.

Develop partnerships and learn established best practices in emergency response at the Partners in Emergency Preparedness Conference on April 18th-20th, 2017, in Tacoma, Washington.

Learn about improved hurricane preparedness and share ideas with other federal, state, and local officials at the National Hurricane Conference on April 17th-20th, 2017, in New Orleans, Louisiana.

 Call for Papers

CDC is sponsoring a special supplement issue of the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH) on “The Evolution of Public Health Emergency Management from Preparedness to Response and Recovery.” Submissions will be accepted until January 15, 2017. For more information, visit the AJPH website

 Zika Resources

Take a look at a recent CDC press release that shares preliminary estimates of birth defects following Zika virus infection in pregnancy.

View the latest CDC Health Alert Network (HAN) Health Advisory providing travel and testing recommendations resulting from the investigation of local Zika virus transmission in Brownsville, Texas.

For the latest information about Zika, including updated case counts and counts of pregnant women with any lab evidence of Zika virus infection, visit the CDC Zika Home Page.