Entries in Centers for Disease Control (9)


Government Zombie Promos Are Spreading

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The government’s zombie apocalypse is spreading and could come to an emergency-management center near you.

A few weeks before the government’s Zombie Awareness Month in October, FEMA’s monthly webinar Thursday discussed the success of the Centers for Disease Control’s zombie-preparedness campaign and how other centers can use pop culture references -- even fictitious ones like the walking dead -- to promote gearing up for real disasters.

Almost 400 emergency-management professionals tuned in nationwide, according to an official at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“Zombie-preparedness messages and activities have proven to be an effective way of engaging new audiences, particularly young people who are not familiar with what to do before, during or after a disaster,” Danta Randazzo of FEMA’s individual and community preparedness division said during the webinar. “It’s also a great way to grab attention and increase interest in general.”

He said the original zombie campaign, which the CDC launched in May 2011, succeeded in educating more members of the public about real emergencies while keeping government costs relatively low. After all, preparation for a zombie apocalypse isn’t especially different from preparation for a number of other disasters, such as the CDC’s zombie apocalypse-education program recommendations to build an emergency kit with food, water and medications; plan an evacuation route and pick a meeting place to regroup.

Maggie Silver, one of the CDC zombie campaign’s masterminds, said she hears about zombie campaign copycats almost every week, and they call it “Zombie Nation.” It has spread to health departments, libraries and universities as well as Canada’s version of the CDC, she said.

During the webinar, Silver said she’s often asked, “Why Zombies?”

As it turns out, the idea came from responders after the CDC asked its followers what they were prepared for after the March 2011 earthquake and Tsunami in Japan. Responders tweeted real disasters like “earthquake” and “hurricane,” but the Silver said officials also noticed a lot of “zombie” tweets.

“We decided to keep that in the back of our minds as we were planning for future events,” Silver said. “Of course, when hurricane season came around, we wanted to spice up our general preparedness message. We decided why not give people what they want?”

CDC officials used existing content, but refreshed it with a zombie theme. They started with a tongue-in-cheek blog post and linked to their other emergency pages. “We have a very small office and an equally small budget, so we had to do something that wasn’t going to take a lot of man power or dollars,” Silver said.

They had no idea it would take off the way it did, Silver said. The blog site crashed in 10 minutes as more than 30,000 people tried to read their 101 on zombie preparedness. Overall, the page had more than 60,000 views per hour. Eventually, traffic flowed to the main website.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Security Lapses Revealed at CDC Bio-Terror Laboratory

James Gathany, Centers for Disease Control(NEW YORK) -- Internal emails have revealed repeated, potentially dangerous security lapses at one of the nation's top bio-terror labs that houses deadly biological agents like anthrax and the SARS virus.

The emails from the Centers for Disease Control, first reported by USA Today and confirmed on Thursday by ABC News, describe multiple instances between 2009 and 2010 of doors within a supposedly secure facility in Atlanta being left unlocked, potentially allowing unauthorized access to the deadly strains.  In at least one instance, someone without the proper security clearance was found in a restricted area.

"We are dealing with nasty agents that we need to have maximum containment," said Najmedin Meshkati, professor of engineering at the University of Southern California.  "If they get released or discharged from that facility, it could be problematic."

One official said that while walking through a high-security area, he found two doors unlocked and said, "it has become a common failure point," according to the emails.

CDC officials told ABC News that the public was never at risk and the government agency has addressed the concerns at the Atlanta lab.  A spokesperson for the agency told USA Today the doors were just one layer of security at the labs and it would still be "close to impossible" for any intruders to get their hands on the dangerous microbes.

The CDC is in charge of its own security, an internal review system that Dr. Richard Besser, one of the Centers' previous heads and current ABC News chief medical editor, said needs to change.

"I think it's clear that no laboratory should have oversight of itself," he said.  "You need an independent group looking at them and I think the CDC would go for that."

Earlier this month, USA Today reported the same facility was having difficulties with its air flow system, which is designed to keep potentially dangerous air from escaping into "clean" areas.

Following the air flow problem reports, the Congressional leaders in the House Energy and Commerce Committee launched an investigation into the safety measures at the $214 million facility.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


HIV/AIDS: 30 Years Since First Report, CDC Vows to Continue Fight

Photodisc/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Thirty years ago Sunday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a report documenting a mysterious and deadly new syndrome that today affects the lives of more than 1.1 million people in the United States.

On Thursday, CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden said that at the time, "no one could have predicted the enormous toll" that HIV/AIDS would take, "claiming the lives of more than 500,000 Americans and many millions worldwide."

The number of Americans living with HIV increased by more than 71,000 people between 2006 and 2008, according to new numbers from the CDC, and as long as that number continues to increase, as does the risk of transmission.

In a CDC-issued report Thursday, the agency said the number of people newly diagnosed with AIDS grew rapidly from 318 in 1981 to over 75,000 in 1992, and is now estimated at 50,000 new cases each year. By 2008, an estimated 1,178,350 persons in the U.S. were living with HIV and 20 percent were unaware of their condition.

Today, most infections are among people under the age of 30, the CDC said. Gay and bisexual men remain the group most affected by the disease, while gay men account for more than half of all new infections.

"Over the last three decades, prevention efforts have helped reduce new infections and treatment advances have allowed people with HIV to live longer, healthier lives," Frieden says in a statement released by the CDC. "But as these improvements have taken place, our nation's collective sense of crisis has waned. Far too many Americans underestimate their risk of infection or believe HIV is no longer a serious health threat, but they must understand that HIV remains an incurable infection."

New cases of the infection were about 6 times higher in African-American men than in white men and about 3 times that of Hispanic men. New cases in black women were 15 times higher than those reported in white women and almost 4 times that of Hispanic women. In Hispanics, new HIV infections among men is more than double that of white men and; the rate among women is close to 4 times that of white women.

Frieden says that while the CDC remains committed to stopping the spread of HIV through increased prevention education, "government alone cannot end this epidemic."

"It's up to all of us to get the facts about HIV, get tested, and take control to protect ourselves and our loved ones."

Frieden calls it "imperative" that experts work to reduce HIV rates in the U.S., and points to a recent analysis showing it could cost more than $200 billion over the next decade to treat those newly infected.

"On this 30th commemoration of AIDS, our resolve to end the epidemic cannot falter. It is possible to greatly reduce new HIV infections. Working together, we can break through complacency, save lives, and end HIV as a threat to the health and well-being of all Americans."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Report Reveals Gaps in Hospital Disaster Plans

YOMIURI SHIMBUN/AFP/Getty Images(ATLANTA) -- According to analysis done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. hospitals are not prepared for a mass-casualty event such as an earthquake or chemical spill.

The survey, reported by Medpage, found that almost all hospitals had plans for responding to such occurrences, but that there were gaps and omissions within their plans.

Also, in cases where hospitals did put in place strategic planning, most failed to address the needs of specific groups such as children, according to Dr. Richard W. Niska and Iris M. Shimizu, PhD, in a National Center for Health Statistics report.

According to Niska and Shimizu's report, only 68 percent of hospitals had plans for dealing with all six major types of disasters -- epidemic-pandemic disease outbreaks, bioterror attacks, chemical accidents and attacks, nuclear-radiological events, large explosions and fires, and major natural disasters -- and just 20 percent had developed strategies to combat explosive-incendiary and nuclear-radiological events.

There were also deficiencies when it came to planning patient transfer arrangements with other hospital facilities in mass-casualties situations. Niska and Shimizu found that just 60 percent of hospitals had reached out to burn centers to assist with treatment in the event of explosions or fires.

In the event of overcrowding, the analysis showed that 25 percent of those surveyed had made no plans for expanding their facilities to accommodate for large numbers of deaths. Further, just 60 percent had planned for increasing their morgue capacity.

The report suggests that among the biggest omissions in planning came from cases that involved pediatric patients.

Also, less than half of the hospitals had developed a way to account for displaced families and lacked a strategy on how to reunite children with their family.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Patients Getting Too Large, So Ambulances Adjust

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BOSTON) -- As the average calorie count of American meals continue to grow, and the average American body swells as well, ambulances are starting to make similar expansions.

Boston’s Emergency Medical Services will deploy an ambulance retrofitted with a stretcher capable of lifting patients up to 850 pounds, according to The Boston Globe.

Emergency medical personnel have been familiar with heavy patients for a long time, but now a critical point has been reached. They’ve also installed a hydraulic lift on the ambulance to help lift obese patients on board. Altogether, the cost of equipping the ambulance was $12,000, the newspaper report said.

“With a 300-pound patient, it’s not too bad, or even 400 pounds. But to be honest with you, with a 500-, 600-, 700-pound patient — it’s just too much for you,’’ Jose A. Archila, a Boston EMS captain told the newspaper.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, no state had a population of obese people greater than 14 percent. The most recent numbers in 2009 show that only Colorado and the District of Columbia had a prevalence of obesity less than 20 percent.

The change in Boston may be surprising, but the numbers show its necessity.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


CDC Report: 48 Million Americans Contract Foodborne Illnesses Annually

Photo Courtesy - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(WASHINGTON) -- Roughly one-out-of-six Americans, or 48 million people, get sick from foodborne illnesses each year, according to the latest report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Of the 48 million people affected, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die.

In the first report issued on the rates of foodborne illnesses in the U.S. since 1999, the CDC notes that although there are 31 known pathogens that cause foodborne illnesses, the majority of cases are caused by unspecified agents.

Furthermore, findings show that 90 percent of known pathogen illnesses are caused by only seven "bugs" -- the most common being the norovirus, which accounts for about 58 percent of annual known pathogen foodborne illnesses.  The other top four are salmonella, C. perfringens, Campylobacter spp., and Staphylococcus aureus, the pathogen responsible for staph infections.

Over the past decade, the rate of foodborne illnesses caused by many known pathogens has decreased by 20 percent, but the CDC emphasizes that there is a need for greater emphasis on prevention.  Reducing foodborne illnesses by just one percent  would keep 500,000 Americans from getting sick each year.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Adults Without Health Insurance Almost Tops 50 Million

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The economic recession has swelled the ranks of Americans without health insurance due to laid-off workers losing their employer-provided coverage.

According to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 49.9 million people ages 18 to 64 had no medical coverage for at least part of the past 12 months.  That’s about 26.2 percent of the adult population.

In 2008, 46 million Americans went without health insurance for a portion of the year.

Moreover, when children 17 and under are factored in, the number of Americans uninsured for at least part of a year span numbered 59.1 million.

Nearly everyone over age 64 has universal coverage, thanks to Medicare.

Going without insurance means that people skip doctor’s visits for treatable illnesses.  Older adults, who ignore their health, are sicker when they reach 65, thus requiring more doctors’ visits.  That further taxes Medicare, which already faces serious problems staying solvent.

On a brighter note, public programs such as Medicaid and State Children's Health Insurance Program have reduced the number of children without medical insurance from ten million two years ago to 8.7 million currently.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Hospitals Slow to Adopt Blood Stream Infection Prevention Program

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BALTIMORE) -- It's a common procedure in any intensive care unit -- doctors insert into patients what is called a central line, which can be used to administer vital medications while monitoring various critical elements within the heart and blood.

But a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate shows that 250,000 patients with central lines contract blood stream infections every year, and more than 10 percent die as a result.  The study, conducted in 2002, is the CDC's most current figure.

A doctor at Johns Hopkins University says these deaths can be eliminated -- at virtually no extra cost and with little additional training.  Moreover, a program exists that promises to do just that, but almost two years after its inception, only a fraction of hospitals choose to participate.

"In what other industry, would there be a known safety standard — and nobody's debating the evidence — that a failure to comply with kills people," Dr. Peter Pronovost, medical director for the Center for Innovation in Quality Patient Care at Johns Hopkins, told ABCNews.

Pronovost, a practicing anesthesiologist and critical care physician, believes these infections can be eliminated with a program he developed.  But, he said, progress is too slow.

Early last year, Pronovost set out to eliminate those infections.  He created a program called On the CUSP: Stop BSI (Comprehensive Unit-Based Safety Program to reduce Central-Line Blood Stream Infections in the ICU) in concert with Johns Hopkins, the Health Research and Educational Trust (an affiliate of the American Hospital Association), and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Latino Life Expectancy Longer Than Other Groups

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A new Centers for Disease Control study suggests Latinos in the U.S. have a longer life expectancy than Caucasians or African-Americans in the country do.  The C.D.C.'s National Center for Health Statistics research, based on 2006 death rate data, finds Latinos in the U.S. live an average of 2.5 years longer than the non-Hispanic white population and nearly 8 years longer than the non-Hispanic black population.

Life expectancy for the total population was 77.7 years, but the Hispanic population had a life expectancy of nearly 81 years.  Non-Hispanic whites can expect to live about 78 years, and African-Americans have a life expectancy of 73 years.

The C.D.C. report said the reasons for the differences are not known.  A recent article on on living longer points to the Latino lifestyle as a determinant, saying the importance of family, a strong work ethic, the role of religion and formation of a community may be part of the equation. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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