On Public Health Security - July 2017 - 15 Years of PHEP: Sharing Local Success Stories

On Public Health Security - July 2017 - 15 Years of PHEP: Sharing Local Success Stories

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On Public Health Security
July 2017
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Stephen C. Redd

Dear Partners,


In response to the deadly events of September 11, 2001, and the subsequent anthrax attacks, Congress established a new program to help health departments across the nation prepare for emergencies. It is now 15 years since CDC initiated the Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) program. Every year since, the PHEP program has provided vital resources to ensure communities can effectively respond to infectious disease outbreaks, natural disasters, and chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear events. To share PHEP successes, we launched a Stories from the Field Webpage, featuring state and local preparedness and response success stories throughout the country. You can also access these stories, funding details, and performance data by state or territory on our PHEP Map page. The following stories provide examples of the different types of emergencies that PHEP supports.


PHEP Ensures Flood-Displaced Residents in West Virginia Get Critical Supplies


West Virginia is no stranger to floods, but this one was different. On June 23, 2016, 10 inches of rain fell in West Virginia in just a few hours. The rain, which led to rivers overflowing their banks by up to 27 feet, caused the third deadliest flood in state history. At the helm of the response was West Virginia’s Center for Threat Preparedness, which is supported by PHEP. Because of past experience with the Incident Command Structure, the Center organized a response that included food safety checks, mold inspections, control of a dermatitis outbreak, deployment of mobile health clinics, and distribution of tetanus vaccines. The state’s PHEP funds also supported the delivery of more than $40 million in donated supplies to residents in need both during and after the flooding. As a result of these and others’ efforts, displaced residents remained safe from disease threats and were able to get the supplies they needed during the flood.

PHEP Supports Multiple Outbreak Investigations in Oregon

In 2015, a foodborne outbreak caused 13 cases of Escherichia coli (E. coli) in Oregon, four of which required hospitalization. During this outbreak, a PHEP-funded team of epidemiologists used the state’s surveillance system, also supported through PHEP, to identify infected individuals and determine how they were exposed. They quickly identified the 13 cases of E. coli and their source, Chipotle Mexican Grill. That same year, an outbreak of meningitis B at the University of Oregon resulted in seven cases and one fatality. The state deployed PHEP-supported staff to help operate a mass vaccination clinic that vaccinated more than 5,000 university students. In both outbreaks, Oregon was able to respond quickly to the threat and reduce the spread of diseases because of capacities established through PHEP.


PHEP Helps Ohio Prepare for the Republican National Convention


In July, 2016, Cleveland, Ohio hosted the Republican National Convention. Nearly 70,000 visitors came to the area, including delegates from every state and territory. This event, like other large political gatherings, was considered a National Special Security Event, meaning that it was a potential target for terrorism or other criminal activity. For more than a year, PHEP-funded health department staff, in addition to other CDC staff, worked with the U.S. Secret Service to plan for this event through numerous trainings and full-scale exercises. PHEP-funded health department staff also staffed the state Emergency Operations Center, provided infectious disease and epidemiology expertise, and supported coordination before and during the convention. The Ohio health department, with the support of CDC and other partners, was able to ensure the health and well-being of its residents and visitors to Cleveland during this national event.


These stories demonstrate how far state and local emergency preparedness has come over the past 15 years. Without PHEP, state and local health departments would struggle to keep Americans safe from natural disasters, disease outbreaks, and public health threats. We encourage you to share these PHEP success stories to help us raise awareness about this critical program. Additionally, if you have your own preparedness and response success story to share, I encourage you to email my staff at phprpartners@cdc.gov.


Thank you,


Stephen C. Redd, MD


Director, Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Upcoming Events

Be part of the largest gathering of public safety communication professionals in the world. Attend the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO) 2017 Annual Conference & Expo on August 13th-16th in Denver, Colorado.

Celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) and the achievements of state and territorial public health at their 2017 Annual Meeting on September 19th-21st in Washington, D.C.


Additional Resources

CDC recently released a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) entitled “Evaluation of Placental and Fetal Tissue Specimens for Zika Virus Infection – 50 States and District of Columbia – January-December, 2016.”

CDC recently released a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) entitled “Progress toward Containment of Poliovirus Type 2 – Worldwide, 2017.”